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    First Chile miners rescued from depths


    by ODN

    1 340 views

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

    "This is a miracle from God," said Alberto Avalos, the first rescued miner's elated uncle, who rushed to the rescue capsule as it arrived on the surface.

    The first miner was liberated around midnight (Chile time) and by the time dawn broke eight men had been liberated.

    Rescuers, relatives and friends broke into jubilant cheers as the miners, one by one, emerged from the mine. Florencio Avalos, a father of two, was the first to emerge to breathe his first fresh air in 69 days after a claustrophobic ascent of about half a mile.

    Hugged and kissed by relatives, the 31-year-old Avalos looked very healthy following a nearly 16-minute journey to safety. He was then embraced by President Sebastian Pinera as the surrounding crowd chanted "Chile! Viva Chile!"

    Next up was Mario Sepulveda, whose whoops of joy resounded on the surface even before he arrived to the laughs of waiting relatives. He stepped out of the capsule with a yellow bag, reached in and pulled out souvenir rocks from below, and slapped one in Pinera's hand.

    "I'm so happy!" Sepulveda yelled, grinning, punching his fist in the air and hugging everyone in sight. However, he also sounded a serious note.

    "I have been with God and I've been with the devil," he later said, calling for deep changes to protect workers rights.