Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Chile basks in euphoria as miners emerge

Carlos Mamani, 23, is stretchered off as he becomes the fourth miner to exit the rescue capsule, on October 13, 2010 at the San Jose mine
Carlos Mamani, 23, is stretchered off as he becomes the fourth miner to exit the rescue capsule, on October 13, 2010 at the San Jose mine
Jimmy Sanchez, the fifth miner to be rescued, celebrates after his rescue Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 at San Jose Mine
Florencio Avalos, 31, becomes the first miner to exit the rescue capsule at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 13: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Carlos Mamani, 23, becomes the fourth miner to exit the rescue capsule, on October 13, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5, 2010 collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
Marcelo Vilquinina, nephew of trapped miner Carlos Mamani Solis, yawns as he watches rescue operations on TV from the camp outside the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. Thirty-three miners became trapped when the gold and copper mine collapsed on Aug. 5. Mamani was the fourth miner to be rescued. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
A boy gestures as he watches on TV the rescue operations at the San Jose mine to free 33 trapped miners in Copiapo, Chile, late Tuesday Oct. 12, 2010. Thirty-three miners became trapped when the gold and copper mine collapsed on Aug. 5. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
In this screen grab taken from video, Carlos Mamani, the fourth miner to be rescued, celebrates after his rescue Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. Mamani had just started working as a heavy-equipment operator at the mine when it it collapsed. (AP Photo)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, is the second miner to exit the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
In this screen grab taken from video, rescuer Manuel Gonzalez Pavez, second left, speaks to the 33 trapped miners after being lowered into the mine near Copiapo, Chile.(AP Photo)
In this photo released by the Chilean government, Bolivian miner Juan Illanes is carried away on a stretcher after being rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Hugo Infante, Chilean government)
Rescued miner Juan Andres Illanes Palma, center, third miner to be rescued, salutes at his arrival to the surface from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010.at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. Center right is Chile's President Sebastian Pinera.(AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, center, first lady Cecilia Morel, left, and Mining Minister Laurence Goldburn, right, talk to the press after the rescue of the first of 33 trapped miners at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010.(AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
Rescued miner Juan Andres Illanes Palma, third miner to be rescued, salutes at his arrival to the surface from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010.at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010.(AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
A person holds a sign that reads in Spanish "Strength miners, Chile is with you" with a group of people watching on rescue operations on TV taking place at the San Jose mine to free 33 trapped miners, in Copiapo, Chile, late Tuesday Oct. 12, 2010. Thirty-three miners became trapped when the gold and copper mine collapsed on Aug. 5. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
In this screen grab taken from video, Juan Andres Illanes, the third miner to be rescued, celebrates after his rescue Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010 at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
In this photo released by the Chilean government, Bolivian miner Juan Illanes is carried away on a stretcher after being rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Hugo Infante, Chilean government)
In this photo released by the Chilean presidential press office, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, center right, greets the second rescued miner Mario Sepulveda after he was rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Jose Manuel de la Maza, Chilean presidential press office)
In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, center, is greeted after his rescue Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
In this photo released by the Chilean presidential press office, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, right, hugs rescued miner Mario Sepulveda after Sepulveda was rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Jose Manuel de la Maza, Chilean presidential press office)
In this photo released by the Chilean presidential press office, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, fourth right, applauds while the capsule with the first rescued miner Florencio Avalos comes out from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo/Jose Manuel de la Maza, Chilean presidential press office)
This undated photo released by Diario Atacama, shows miner Florencio Antonio Avalos Silva. According to Maria Silva, Avalos' mother, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera told her that her son will be the first miner to be pulled out of the mine. (AP Photo/Diario Atacama)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda (back to camera), 39, the second miner to exit the rescue capsule, is greeted October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, the second miner to exit the rescue capsule, receives a hug October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 13: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout provided by the Chilean government October 13, 2010, Manuel Gonzalez, a rescue specialist from Codelco, stands in the rescue capsule at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. Gonzalez was the first rescue worker to be lowered into the mine. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 13: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout provided by the Chilean government October 13, 2010, Manuel Gonzalez, a rescue specialist from Codelco, stands in the rescue capsule at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. Gonzalez was the first rescue worker to be lowered into the mine. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, is the second miner to exit the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, is the second miner to exit the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, the second miner to exit the rescue capsule, shakes hands with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (R) October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Mario Sepulveda, 39, is the second miner to exit the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, left, is embraced by Chilean President Sebastian Pinera after his rescue at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, center, is greeted after his rescue at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, center, is greeted after his rescue at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera embraces miner Florencio Avalos after he was rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he was trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile.(AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
Mining Minister Laurence Golborne and rescue chief Andre Sougarrete, right, hold hands as rescue worker Manuel Gonzalez Paves is lowered in the capsule into the mine where miners are trapped to begin the rescue at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile.(AP Photo/Roberto Candia)
In this screen grab taken from video, rescuer Manuel Gonzalez Pavez, second left, is greeted by the trapped miners at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile.(AP Photo)
Relatives and friends of trapped miners celebrate while watching on a TV screen the rescue operation of Florencio Avalos at the camp outside the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile.
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Mining Minister Laurence Golborne stand with the family of Florencio Avalos while waiting for the trapped miner to exit the mine in the rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (L) and Mining Minister Laurence Golborne shake hands after Roberto Rios, a technical expert arrived at the bottom of the rescue hole October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation has begun bringing up the 33 miners, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
Patricio Sepulveda, a corporal of the police special operations unit, smiles after arriving at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile
In this screen grab taken from video, Mario Sepulveda Espina, the second miner to be rescued, celebrates at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILI - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera watches the first dry run of the descent of the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
This undated photo released as a courtesy by Diario Atacama, shows miner Mario Sepulveda Espina. According to rescuers Sepulveda will be the second miner to be pulled out of the mine late Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Diario Atacama)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Manuel Gonzalez, a rescue specialist from Codelco, prepares to be the first rescuer lowered into the mine in the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Manuel Gonzalez, a rescue specialist from Codelco, prepares to be the first rescuer lowered into the mine in the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILI - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera watches the first dry run of the descent of the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
SAN JOSE MINE, CHILI - OCTOBER 12: (NO SALES, NO ARCHIVE) In this handout from the Chilean government, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera watches the first dry run of the descent of the unmanned rescue capsule October 12, 2010 at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. The rescue operation could begin bringing up the 33 miners tonight, 69 days after the August 5th collapse that trapped them half a mile underground. (Photo by Hugo Infante/Chilean Government via Getty Images)
Jaime Manalich, Chile's health minister, has been closely monitoring the miners' mental and physical health (AP)
Chile's mining minister Laurence Golborne stands inside a capsule that will be used to rescue trapped miners (AP)
Drill operator Jeff Hart embraces Elizabeth Segovia, sister of trapped miner Dario Segovia Rojo, at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile (AP)
Chile's mining minister has said 33 men trapped for more than two months will probably start to be pulled out on Wednesday (AP)
Chile's First Lady Cecilia Morel, right, embraces a relative of a trapped miner outside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile (AP)
Relatives of the trapped miners await further news of their rescue in Chile (AP)
The Plan B drill, one of three drills working in the rescue operation of 33 trapped miner in Chile (AP)
A relative shows on his mobile phone new images of the trapped miners in Copiapo, Chile (AP)
A man carries a Chilean flag during a small ceremony marking 60 days since 33 miners became trapped in Chile (AP)
Workers move a capsule that will be used to rescue trapped miners from the collapsed San Jose mine in Chile (AP)
Trapped miners inside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile (AP)
Trapped miners celebrate Chile's independence bicentennial inside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile (AP)
The camp where the relatives of 33 trapped miners are waiting in Copiapo, Chile
Some of the 33 trapped miners inside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile (AP)

To hugs, cheers and tears, rescuers today began pulling 33 men one by one to fresh air and freedom, 69 days after they were trapped in a collapsed Chilean mine almost half a mile underground.

The first of the Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days were being winched to fresh air and freedom today amid cheers from their families and countrymen.

Florencio Avalos, 31, wearing a helmet and sunglasses to protect him from the glare of rescue lights, smiled broadly as he emerged from the missile-like escape capsule and hugged his sobbing seven-year-old son Bairo and his wife. He also embraced Chilean president Sebastian Pinera and other rescuers.

Also on hand was Mr Avalos' other son and father.

After the capsule was pulled out of a manhole-sized opening at the San Jose mine, Mr Avalos emerged as bystanders cheered, clapped and broke into a chant of "Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!" - the country's name.

Shy Mr Avalos gave a thumbs-up as he was led to an ambulance and a series of medical tests after more than two months deep below the Chilean desert - the longest anyone has ever been trapped underground and survived.

Mr Avalos was chosen to be first because he was in the best condition. He has been so shy that he volunteered to handle the camera rescuers sent down so he would not have to appear on the videos that the miners sent up.

Mr Pinera described how lovely it was to see Mr Avalos' sons greet their father, especially young Bairo.

"I told Florencio, that few times have I ever seen a son show so much love for his father," the president said.

"This won't be over until all 33 are out. Hopefully the spirit of these miners will remain forever with us...This country is capable of great things."

Minutes earlier, mine rescue expert Manuel Gonzalez of the state copper company Codelco grinned and made the sign of the cross as he was lowered into the shaft to the trapped men - apparently without incident. He was followed by Roberto Ros, a paramedic with the Chilean navy's special forces. Together they will prepare the miners for their rescue - expected to take as many as 36 hours for all to surface.

The second man pulled to freedom was Mario Sepulveda Espina, who climbed out of the capsule jubilantly hugged his wife, President Pinera and rescuers - then handed them pieces of rock from his underground home.

"We made a promise to never surrender, and we kept it," Mr Pinera said as he waited to greet the miners, whose endurance and unity captivated the world as Chile meticulously prepared their rescue.

The last miner out has been decided -shift foreman Luis Urzua, whose leadership was credited for helping the men endure 17 days with no outside contact after the collapse. The men made 48 hours' worth of rations last before rescuers reached them with a narrow borehole to send down more food.

Janette Marin, sister-in-law of miner Dario Segovia, said the order of rescue did not matter.

"This won't be a success unless they all get out," she said, echoing the solidarity that the miners and people across Chile have expressed.

The paramedics can change the order of rescue based on a brief medical check once they are in the mine. First out will be those best able to handle any difficulties and tell their comrades what to expect. Then, the weakest and the ill - in this case, about 10 suffer from hypertension, diabetes, dental and respiratory infections and skin lesions from the mine's oppressive humidity.

The last should be people who are both physically fit and strong of character.

Chile has taken extensive precautions to ensure the miners' privacy, using a screen to block the top of the shaft from thousands of journalists at the scene.

The miners will be ushered through an inflatable tunnel, like those used in sports stadiums, to an ambulance for a trip of several hundred yards to a triage station for a medical check.

They will gather with a few relatives in an area also closed to the media, before being taken by helicopter to a hospital.

Each ride up the shaft is expected to take about 20 minutes and authorities expect they can haul up one miner an hour. When the last man surfaces, it promises to end a national crisis that began when 700,000 tons of rock collapsed on August 5, sealing the miners into the lower reaches of the mine.

The only media allowed to record them coming out of the shaft will be a government photographer and Chile's state TV channel, whose live broadcast will be delayed by 30 seconds or more to prevent the release of anything unexpected. Photographers and camera operators are on a platform more than 300 feet away.

The capsule - the biggest of three built by Chilean navy engineers - was named Phoenix for the mythical bird that rises from ashes. It is painted in the white, blue and red of the Chilean flag.

The miners were being closely monitored from the moment they're strapped in the capsule. They were given a high-calorie liquid diet donated by Nasa, designed to keep them from vomiting as the capsule rotates 10 to 12 times through curves in the 28-inch-diameter escape hole.

A video camera in the escape capsule would watch for panic attacks. The miners will wear oxygen masks and have two-way voice communication.

Their pulse, skin temperature and respiration rate will be constantly measured through a biomonitor around their abdomens. To prevent blood clotting from the quick ascent, they took aspirin and will wear compression socks.

The miners will also wear sweaters because they will experience a shift in climate from about 90 degrees underground to near freezing on the surface after nightfall. Those coming out during daylight hours will wear sunglasses.

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