Saturday 20 January 2018

ideo: Last miner out as all are said to be healthy

RESCUE: Shift leader last to emerge

CHILE's 33 newly rescued miners were recovering from their ordeal today while also pondering their celebrity status.

Most of the miners were found to be in decent health despite being stuck in a collapsed mine tunnel since August 5.

The men were resting in a hospital after being hoisted to the surface in a rescue operation watched by millions worldwide.

One of the miners had pneumonia and was being treated with antibiotics.

In a complicated but flawless operation under the far northern desert of the South American nation, the miners were hauled out one-by-one through 2,050ft (625 metres) of rock in a metal capsule little wider than a man's shoulders.

It took about 22 hours from the time the first miner was brought to the surface until the last miner was pulled to freedom late yesterday, and then another roughly two-and-a-half hours until the last of the six rescuers also emerged from the gold and copper mine early on today.


Despite the suffering they endured, these previously unknown miners now have plenty to look forward to if they want to take up the offers open to them.

Among a flood of invitations and gifts, Real Madrid and Manchester United have invited the miners, many of whom are avid football fans, to watch them play in Europe.

A flamboyant local singer-turned-businessman has given them k7,000 each, while Apple boss Steve Jobs has sent them all the latest iPod and a Greek firm has offered an islands tour.

President Sebastian Pinera, whose popularity has risen over his handling of the crisis, was at the San Jose mine in the Atacama desert to greet each man as he emerged and plans to host them at his palace in the capital Santiago.

"I hand the shift over to you and hope this never happens again," the last miner out, Luis Urzua, 54, told Mr Pinera.

Having suffered a massive earthquake in February that killed more than 500 people, Chileans were euphoric about the happy ending to their latest challenge and proud of the technology that went into the successful rescue.

Church bells and car horns sounded across Chile in celebration, while family members and well-wishers both wept and laughed for joy outside the mine.

US President Barack Obama and other world leaders sent messages of congratulations, saying the miners' survival was an inspiration to all.

When the mine caved in on August 5, the men were all thought to be dead in yet another of Latin America's litany of mining accidents.

But rescuers found them 17 days later with a bore hole the width of a grapefruit.

That tiny hole became an umbilical cord used to pass hydration gels, water and food to keep them alive until a bigger space could be bored to bring them up.

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