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Rescue operation underway for trapped miners

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-10-13

Rescue operations were underway at the San Jose mine in Chile, as the first of 33 miners trapped underground for more than two months reached the surface early Wednesday morning in a specially-made capsule.

Florencio Avalos, the first of 33 miners to be rescued, has surfaced after 69 days trapped deep underground in Chile's San Jose mine.

He stepped out of a rescue capsule amid sobs from his young son and received a bracing bear hug from Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.

Avalos smiled widely as he hugged rescuers, then Pinera, as his wife, two sons and father looked on. His 7-year-old son Bairo sobbed, as did Chile's first lady, Cecilia Morel. Then Avalos was escorted into a medical triage center for the first of a battery of tests.

The 10-week survival drama has riveted Chile and the world at large.

Earlier in the night, rescuers had carried out a test, lowering a still-empty escape capsule into the shaft that will finally provide a way out for 33 trapped miners.

Last-minute adjustments had to be made to systems that will enable communication between the miners and the surface during their trips.

President Sebastian Pinera met with the rescuers before the operation begain, standing in the clouds of steam rushing up from the mine where the men have endured sauna-like conditions for 69 days.

 

Date created : 2010-10-13

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