Chile's 33 miners are being rescued

The first of Chile's 33 trapped miners were hoisted to safety in a capsule barely wider than a man's shoulders on Wednesday, cheering, punching the air and hugging their families after two months deep underground.

The miners have spent a record 69 days in the hot, humid bowels of the gold and copper mine in Chile's northern Atacama desert since it caved in on August 5. Rescuers expect to bring all the remaining men to safety over the next two days.

For the first 17 days of their ordeal, the miners were all believed to be dead. Their story of survival and the extraordinary rescue operation have captured the world's attention.

After weeks of drilling a narrow shaft down to the miners and preparing the special capsules, the final stage began when a rescuer descended the shaft on Tuesday night. He was hugged by the waiting miners when he reached their tunnel deep in the mine, and he then took just minutes to buckle Avalos into the capsule and send him to the surface.


Rescuers were finally able to deploy the capsule, dubbed "Phoenix" after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes, after reinforcing part of the narrow escape shaft with metal casing to prevent rocks from falling and blocking the exit.

Engineers said the final stage of the rescue still has its risks but that the capsule was handling well in the shaft, and they expected a smooth extraction.

Each man's journey to safety should take about 15 minutes. The capsule travels at about 3 feet (1 meter) per second, or a casual walking pace, and can speed to 10 feet per second if the miner being carried gets into trouble.

The miners can communicate with rescue teams using an intercom in the capsule. They will then be under observation at a nearby hospital for two days.

Rescuers originally found the men, miraculously all alive, 17 days after the mine's collapse with a bore hole the width of grapefruit. It then served as an umbilical cord used to pass hydration gels, water and food, as well as letters from their families and soccer videos to keep their spirits up.

Medics say some of the men are psychologically fragile and may struggle with stress for a long time after their rescue.

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its so great to know that all of them were rescued. what an amazing story, i hope they are all good healthwise. its amazing to see the support from all over the world.

I was watching cnn news last night when the last 3 of the miners were rescued. It was wonderful to see them all come out alive. Praise God and all those who helped to make this possible. I really feel for the families of these fellows. I know a few of the miners had wives who had babies while the miners were underground. I had my second child in the states when I was evacuated from Turkey during the Persian Gulf War. My husband was still in Turkey. He got to see his new baby when she a a month and a day old. I am just so happy for everyone. It is a very moving and touching story of what happened with the miners.

I know it is so crazy the amount of time they were down there and the things that they missed. I did see a news piece on what life will be like afterwards, which i didn’t think too much about. I guess treatment will be provided if any one has ptsd, other doctors making checking in on their recovery and health, and they will have people helping coach them through dealing with the media. I guess there is so much to think about after all this, i hope they all do well and get healthy.