With millions of people awaiting the rescue broadcast live on many television stations worldwide, messages of encouragement coming from all over the World. From the Vatican, the Pope entrusted to God “and hope” to the 33 miners. In South Africa, they’ve highlighted “the genius of the operation.”
Santiago de Chile / Copiapo – Chile celebrated on Wednesday the success of the historic rescue operation of the 33 trapped miners in the San José mine, when 12 miners have been saved, surfacing after 70 days trapped in a mine at more than 700 meters under ground.
Edison Peña, 34, miner, single, is the rescued number 12. In the first recording inside the mine he expressed his despair by saying: “I want to get out soon.”
Jorge Gallardo, 56, miner, married, who has worked all his life in the mine who suffers hypertension became the number 11.
Alex Vega Salazar, a heavy machinery mechanic, 31, was the tenth of the 33 miners trapped since Aug. 5 to leave the mine, in apparent good health, like the others, according to the Health minister, Jaime Mañalich.
“Things are going extremely well so far,” said the minister, adding that even the miners that haven’t been rescued yet “are relaxed and calm,” although “they are tired and we are still waiting long hours to be the next to leave the mine,” he said, according to Efe.
In the eyes of the world, the rescue began when Florencio Avalos made history by appearing at 0:10 pm local time at the surface, becoming the first miner saved.
This young 31 year old miner emerged from the capsule after a journey of just 15 minutes through the shaft dug during 33 days with a Scramm T-130 drilling machine, nicknamed “The Hare” by rescuers due to the speed it worked at.
Millions of viewers around the world had the opportunity to witness how Avalos -dark glasses to avoid the strong lights- maintained a great calm, unlike his young son Byron, who was waiting with his wife, Monica Araya, and his other son, Alex.
Relatives started crying and covered him in hugs, while a siren alerted “Campamento Esperanza” (Camp Hope) that the most miraculous rescue in the history of mining had begun successfully.
With the presence of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, who did not want to miss these first moments, emotion, tears and hugs were repeated every time a new miner emerged from the earth.
One of the miners with best sense of humor, in these intense moments was the second one out, Mario Sepulveda, an 39 year old electrician, who got all the camp members and audience to laugh with his screams during the journey that took him to the surface.
Before leaving the capsule, he shouted “¡Viva Chile, Mierda!” (Long live Chile, expletive!) and began to give out souvenir stones to the bystanders from a backpack on his back.
In an impromptu press appearance a few minutes after the surfacing of Avalos, Piñera stated the 33 workers are an example of unity, courage and perseverance that must be followed by all fellow citizens in overcoming problems within the country.
“Like the earthquake victims and those working in the reconstruction, our miners have shown that when Chile joins during adversity we are capable of great things. I hope that this example is always remembered by us,” he said.
He announced that the site now occupied by the so-called “Camp Hope” will have a memorial erected to remind future generations of this feat.
He also assured that the San Jose mine and other mines where accidents have occurred, will not operate “until we ensure that the lives and safety of the workers are safeguarded.”
The rescued Chilean miners
- Florencio Ávalos, 31, foreman, married. Kenan’s brother, another of the trapped miners. In his capacity as foreman he was the second ranked after the shift manager.
- Mario Sepulveda, 40, electrician, married. Was the presenter in most of the videos that were taken in the mine.
- Juan Illanes, 52, miner, married. Veteran from the border conflict that almost ended in a war between Chile and Argentina in 1978.
- Carlos Mamani, 23, heavy equipment operator, married. Bolivian and the only miner of the 33 that is not Chilean.
- Jimmy Sánchez, 19, miner, single. He is the youngest of the group.
- Osman Araya, 30, miner, married. Only started working at the mine 4 months ago.
- José Ojeda, 46, in charge of drilling, a widower. He suffers from diabetes and was the one who wrote the message that told the world that they were all alive: “We are all well in the shelter, all 33 of us.”
- Claudio Yáñez: 34, Drill Operator, single.
- Mario Goómez, 63, driver, married. Is the most experienced of the group. He is the son of a miner and is nicknamed ‘El navegao’ due to his stint as a merchant seaman.
- Alex Vega, 32, heavy equipment mechanic, married. On September 22, celebrated his birthday underground.
- Jorge Gallardo, 56, miner, married. He has worked all his life in the mine and suffers from hypertension.
- Edison Peña, 34, miner, single.