15 miners recovered in the first 12 hours of the rescue in Chile

Salvage operation continues without a hitch and is progressing faster than expected.


The first 12 hours of the rescue of 33 miners, trapped for 70 days in the depths of a gold and copper mine, have passed without delay in the Atacama Desert in the northern tip of Chile.

By noon local time on Wednesday October 13th, a total of 15 workers had surfaced after a journey of just over 15 minutes in the Phoenix II capsule, a cage of 54 cm in diameter, 3.9 meters in length and weighing 450 kilos.

The first worker to appear on the surface was foreman Florencio Ávalos (31) at 00:12 local time (03:12 GMT), and, like his colleagues who followed, he was in good spirits and walking unaided.

However, all the workers spent two hours in a stabilization zone, and were then taken in Chilean Air Force (FACH) Bell 412 helicopters to the hospital in the city of Copiapó for a precautionary medical examination.

It is estimated that the 33 workers will remain hospitalized for at least 48 hours in what is the leading medical center of the Atacama Region, located 800 kilometers north of Santiago.

The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, arrived in Camp Hope at the San José mine and spoke with his counterpart President Sebastian Piñera about the rescue of fellow Bolivian Carlos Mamani (23).

The foreign leader declared he was «surprised and impressed» by the «great humanitarian action» taking place in the area. «Bolivia will never forget this historic and unprecedented moment,» promised Morales.

Subsequently, the leaders received a call from the Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who called the work of the Chilean people and authorities «extraordinary». «The world is proud» of Chile, he said, according to sources cited by EFE.

The speed with which the process has developed prompted President Piñera to announce that everything could end today: «The deadlines have been shortened because the rescue operation for each miner took one hour, but now we are rescuing three miners every two hours. We have seven or eight hours of work left.

«The great wealth of our country is not the copper, but the miners; it is not the natural resources, but the Chileans,» said the Head of State, while confirming he will remain in the area until «we rescue the last miner.»