Latest developments in the Chile mine rescue

Posted on 14 October 2010
 

All of the 33 trapped miners have been rescued after more than two months 2,050 feet underground in a gold and copper mine in Chile's northern Atacama desert.

 

Manuel Gonzalez, the first of the six rescuers to enter the mine and the last to leave, reached the surface early on Thursday, 24 hours later.

 

The final miner to emerge was Luis Urzua, 54, the shift supervisor who became the leader of the trapped miners, organizing the men into watches, rationing food and maintaining order during 17 days without contact from the surface.

 

Authorities and NASA experts have said Urzua's cool head and steady leadership were crucial in holding the men together during a grueling 69 days underground.

 

TOP DEVELOPMENTS

 

* One by one, the miners climbed into a specially designed steel capsule barely wider than a man's shoulders and took a 15-minute journey through 2,050 feet of rock to the surface.

 

* The first rescued miners were hoisted to safety, cheering, punching the air and hugging their families after two months deep underground.

 

* The first miner to be freed, Florencio Avalos, was brought to the surface shortly after midnight. Avalos, a 31-year-old father of two, looked very healthy following a nearly 16-minute journey to safety.

 

* The miners were sent for medical checkups and found to be in 'more than satisfactory' health, except for one who has pneumonia and is being treated with antibiotics.

 

ONGOING RESCUE OPERATION

 

* Rescuers, relatives and friends broke into jubilant cheers as each miner emerged from the mine. Nervous wives, children, parents and friends waited on an arid, rocky hillside above the San Jose mine for the men to be evacuated.

 

* Trapped deep inside the earth for 69 days, Mario Sepulveda never lost his sense of humor, so when he was finally pulled to safety, he brought a souvenir with him -- a bag of rocks.

 

* The accident shone a spotlight on lax mining controls in the world's top copper producer, but also highlighted a mature industry that has the machinery and expertise to handle one of the world's most challenging rescues ever.

 

* The ordeal began with a cave-in on August 5 that trapped the miners about 2,050 feet underground in the mine near the northern Chilean city of Copiapo, 500 miles north of Santiago.

 




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