Wednesday, October 13, 2010
'I'm so happy!' Nine Chile miners gain freedom - World news - Americas - msnbc.com
SAN JOSE MINE, Chile — The miners emerged like clockwork, jubilantly embracing wives, children and rescuers and looking remarkably composed Wednesday after languishing for 69 days in the depths of a mine that easily could have been their tomb.
The anxiety that had accompanied the final days of preparation melted away at 12:11 a.m. when the stoutest of the 33 miners, Florencio Avalos, 31, emerged from the missile-like rescue capsule smiling broadly after his half-mile journey to the surface.
In a din of cheers, he hugged his sobbing 7-year-old son and wife and then President Sebastian Pinera, who has been deeply involved in an effort that had become a matter of national pride.
The most ebullient of the bunch came out second, an hour later. Mario Sepulveda, 40, hugged his wife, Elvira, and then jubilantly handed souvenir rocks from his underground prison to laughing rescuers.
"I'm so happy!" Sepulveda yelled, grinning, punching his fist in the air and hugging everyone in sight. Sepulveda later said he had spent the last 10 weeks "between God and the devil."
"They fought, God won," he added.
Nine men have been pulled out in the rescue operation in the Chilean desert — a drama in which the world was captivated by the miners' endurance and unity as officials meticulously prepared their rescue.
Like wives on the surface who had their hair and nails done for the occasion, the men looked groomed and clean-shaven.