The Atacama desert has certainly never known such scenes before.
What a wonderful day as the miners are saved from an otherwise certain death underground.
The exemplary rescue operation started pulling men out of their underground prison first thing on Wednesday 13th October. Inevitably, the world wanted to see the men brought to the surface.
Reuters are broadcasting the rescue live and it’s pretty extraordinary. There’s no great sense of drama as the rescuers handle the winch and drop the capsule. But as each miner is brought out there is clear joy.
Despite all the predictions about the men’s poor physical and emotional health the first men out seemed in good form, boosted without a doubt by the massive relief at beign rescued after more then two months.
The first miner out was Florencio Avalos, wearing sunglasses against the desert sun. He stepped out, beamed, and took his crying 7-year-old son, Bairon, in his arms. He hugged his wife next and then Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.
The second miner out was Mario Sepulveda Espina. After hugging his wife tightly, he dispensed souvenir rocks from the collapsed mine to laughing rescuers and then jumped up and down, smiling, to show he was in good form.
Espina praised the rescues saying: “It is incredible that they saved us from 700 meters below.”
The miners are being taken for medical assessment once they have seen their families briefly.
As I watch, the capsule is just being lowered back into the rescure shaft. The wheel is turning to unreel the cable and 7 rescuers are standing quietly getting on with their work.
The rescue seems to be under good control and the scene is calm. Let’s hope, after the initial fanfare and understandable celebrations, that the men can find some peace and quiet in order to fully recover from their ordeal.