Last trapped Chilean miner pulled out, rescue completed

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SAN JOSE - The last of the 33 trapped Chilean miners, 54-year-old Luis Urzua, the shift foreman, was rescued Wednesday after having stayed 700 metres underground for more than two months.

The atmosphere at the scene exploded when Urzua walked out of the capsule. Waves of horns, sirens and cheers sound for long.

Urzua was among the 33 miners who have been trapped in the San Jose copper mine that collapsed Aug 5. All of them were elevated one-by-one in a capsule through a narrowly bored hole.

President Sebastian Pinera bear-hugged the foreman in a high spirit, and invited him to stand beside him to join the hundreds of others at the scene to sing the national anthem, Xinhua reported.

Praising the foreman “a very good leader of the group”, Pinera said “We’re going to thank everybody from the bottom of our heart”.

Urzua responded with thanks to everybody who have participated in the rescue. “I am very proud of what you have done,” he said to the president.

As the capsule started lifting up, great joy was seen from everybody’s face and tens of hundreds of rescuers on the surface could not help singing spontaneously: “Let’s go, miners! Let’s go, miners! Tonight we are going to rescue you.”

After the first miner was pulled out to the ground, Pinera delivered a triumphant speech, saying “This country is capable of great things …We Chileans have shown the best of us.”

Describing the experience as “a wonderful night that Chileans and the whole world will never forget”, Pinera noted that it was unprecedented in the history of the world for its magnitude and complexity.

The president said his government will strive to improve mine workers’ safety.

The miners, who have been trapped since Aug 5, were confirmed alive Aug 22 and it had been estimated that the rescue would take four months.

On Oct 9, a 624-meter deep rescue tunnel was completed. Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Golborne then declared that the extraction of the miners could begin starting Wednesday.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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