Rescue of all 33 Chilean miners complete

by Derrick Johnson on October 14, 2010

After an operation that lasted more than 22 hours, the last of Chile's trapped miners were rescued yesterday when Luis Urzua, the shift leader who kept his men alive by rationing tuna and water biscuits for 17 days until help arrived, emerged last night from underground.

Speaking to President Sebastian Pinera, Urzua expressed his triumph saying, "The 70 days that we fought so hard were not in vain. We had strength, we had spirit, we wanted to fight, we wanted to fight for our families, and that was the greatest thing," reported the Associated Press.

Thirty-three Chilean miners were trapped when part of the San Jose copper and gold mine collapsed on August 5.

President Pinera claimed the ordeal united his country to become "stronger than ever," according to the BBC. The president plans to permanently close the San Jose mine and hold those responsible accountable for the accident.

Friends and loved ones gathered around the scene, waiting patiently for the men's arrival. Bolivian President Evo Morales was present to greet the only non-Chilean miner, Bolivian Carlos Mamani.

Omar Reygadas, one of the oldest men trapped, was trapped twice before in a mine and emerged with his favored Chilean soccer club flag, Colo-Colo, according to Fox News.

Some of the men plan to return to their craft once they recover. Victor Segovia told his sister "I am a miner , and I will die a miner," according to the BBC.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich said the miners health was a little short of a miracle, reports the BBC. Two to three of the miners, with minor complications, will be able to return home this afternoon.

A movie about the mining camp and rescue is already in the works and will star Javier Bardem, The Times Live reports. 

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