Feelings of dread turned into an outpouring of joy across Chile yesterday as the country’s President, Sebastian Piñera, held a note sent up from the mine in Copiapo, Chile, where 33 miners have been trapped for 17 days.
“All 33 of us are OK, in the refuge” read the hand written letter. A simple message that confirmed the men have survived against all odds in the mine 800 kilometers north of Santiago.
The news set off emotional celebrations and outpourings of pride across the country. With Chileans gathering in parks and public spaces to share their joy. In Santiago, people in restaurants cheered, residents wrote messages on the rear-view mirror of their cars and drove through the streets honking the horn of their vehicles with passengers waving flags.
But the deepest outpouring of emotions came from the site of the mine, where hope for the men had faded. Original estimates had given the men 48 hours if they managed to reach a bunker with emergency supplies.
There had been no contact with the men since the mine’s collapse on Aug 5. Family, friends and rescue workers who had been stationed in a makeshift camp shed tears and embraced and spontaneously sang the Chilean national anthem in scenes played and replayed on national television.
“Coming from the deepest point in this mine, comes a message from our miners who are telling us that they are alive, that they are all together, and that they are waiting to return to see the light of the sun and embrace their families,” said an emotional President Piñera.
Several other notes were attached to the drill, including one written by the eldest miner, Mario Gómez, 63, addressed to his wife.
“I have not for one moment stopped thinking of my family, those that I love.”
The men have been viewed via a video camera lowered to them. Water and sugar has been sent to the men and more food and supplies will be sent soon.
Officials said it could take months to a year for officials to find a way to reach the miners.