World

Chile Celebrates Miracle Rescue

In this photo released by the Chilean Presidential Press Office, the last miner to be rescued, Luis Urzua, center, gestures as Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, right, looks on after his rescue from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he had been trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010.  The 69-day underground ordeal reached its end Wednesday night after 33 trapped miners were hauled up in a cage through a narrow hole drilled through 2,000 feet of rock.  (AP Photo/Alex Ibanez, Chilean Presidential Press Office)

In this photo released by the Chilean Presidential Press Office, the last miner to be rescued, Luis Urzua, center, gestures as Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, right, looks on after his rescue from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he had been trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. The 69-day underground ordeal reached its end Wednesday night after 33 trapped miners were hauled up in a cage through a narrow hole drilled through 2,000 feet of rock. (AP Photo/Alex Ibanez, Chilean Presidential Press Office)

After 69 grueling days all 33 trapped miners have been safely brought to the surface. Chile and the world celebrate the miracle at the mine.

The last of the Chilean miners has been raised from deep beneath the earth. All 33 men have now been delivered from the longest underground entrapment in history.

The Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and the rescue workers sang the Chilean national anthem with pride side by side in the cold and emotional Chile night. The rescue team, that was still underground moments after the final rescue, could be seen holding a make shift flag reading "Mission Accomplished Chile" moments after the final rescue.  

President Piñera addressed the nation at the podium.  "Long Live Chile!" 

"We were in the heart of the world and I think we showed the best of Chile. The unity, the solidarity, the teamwork and the faith."

The foreman who held the group together when they were feared lost was the last man out. Luis Alberto Urzúa was hoisted to safety in a joyous climax to a flawless rescue that captivated the world.

The intricately planned rescue that ended late Wednesday moved with remarkable speed -- and flawless execution -- hauling up miner after miner in a cramped cage through a narrow hole drilled through 2,000 feet of rock.  Originally the plan was supposed to take 36 hours, instead it took 22.  

The crew of Chilean miners was pinned nearly a half-mile underground by 700,000 tons of rock after what felt like an earthquake in the shaft above them, and had no real hope they'd ever be found. 

Luckily, though, the men had Luis Urzúa. Urzúa 54, was the shift commander at the time of the disaster, and used all his wits and his management skills to help his men stay calm and in control for the 17 harrowing days it took for rescuers to make their first contact with them.

It was no surprise, then, that Urzúa was scheduled to be the last of the 33 miners to leave the San Jose gold and copper mine after 69 days of confinement. "He is very protective of his people and obviously loves them," said Robinson Marquez, who once worked with Urzua in a nearby mine, Punta del Cobre. "

He is going to make sure that all of his people are out" before he leaves himself, Marquez said. Under Urzúa leadership, the men stretched an emergency food supply meant to last just 48 hours over 2½ weeks, taking tiny sips of milk and bites of tuna fish every other day. 

They conserved use of their helmet lamps, their only source of light other than a handful of vehicles. They fired up a bulldozer to carve into a natural water deposit, but otherwise minimized using the vehicles that contaminated the available air.

 "The way that they have rationed the food, just as they've performed throughout this crisis, is an example for all of us," Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said after he first spoke with the miners via an intercom rescuers had lowered through a bore hole. "We heard them with such strength, such spirit, which is a reflection of what for them has been a gigantic fortitude and a very well-organized effort," Golborne said. Urzua was the first to speak to Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and to urge him to not let him and his men down.

"Don't leave us alone," he implored the president. In a recording of a conversation between officials and miners led by Urzua, they were heard singing Chile's national anthem with strong voices. "He keeps everybody's spirits up and is so responsible — he's going to see this through to the end," said a neighbor. Angelica Vicencio, who has led a nightly vigil outside the miner's home in Copiapo, about 35 miles (50 kilometers) from the mine. Marquez describes Urzua as a "calm, professional person," and a born leader. "It is in his nature," Marquez said. "It is his gift."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.