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All trapped Chilean miners could be saved by Wednesday

Photo: Chilean Government Video
2 min

Twenty-one of 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 10 weeks have been returned to the surface in an ongoing rescue operation. All 33 could be saved by the end of the day. Those trapped must travel nearly a kilometre through solid rock in a shaft only slightly wider than a man's shoulders. 


Celebrations erupted when 31-year-old Florencio Avalos stepped out of a special steel rescue cage and breathed in fresh air for the first time in 69 days.

He was greeted by his seven-year-old son, his wife Monica, then Chilean President Sebastian Pinera before being taken to a field hospital for tests.

A second miner, Mario Sepulveda, 40, soon followed, clowning around euphorically for the crowd of officials waiting for him before also being bundled off for medical attention. He said he had "been with God and with the devil".

Miner Juan Illanes then became the third miner to be hoisted to the surface after the two-month ordeal.


Via a videolink, the remaining miners could be seen excitedly preparing for their own evacuation.

By early afternoon, 20 miners had been pulled up through the narrow escape chute.

The miners, 32 Chileans and one Bolivian, were trapped on 5 August when the upper galleries of the mine collapsed.

For 17 days they were all but given up for dead, before a drill probe found them and they were able to attach a note to it, announcing that they were alive.

They had survived by strictly rationing food and water, and had found refuge in an emergency shelter.

Hundreds of relatives have been maintaining an anxious vigil in a makeshift tent city at the remote gold and copper mine in the northern Chile desert.

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