Chile’s famous miners thank Chinese crane makers for rescue role

The men will visit the company who made the crane that played a crucial part in their rescue from the San José mine, and will tour sights in Shanghai, Beijing and Changsa.

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Five of the famous 33 miners who survived 69 days trapped underground in Chile’s Atacama Desert are visiting China to thank the Chinese engineers of a crane that played a crucial part in their rescue.

The crane used to haul the men to the surface during the epic rescue on Oct. 13 was made by the Shanghai-based construction machinery firm Sany Group.

With the world watching, the Sany Group crane – with a lifting capacity of 400 tons – winched each miner out one-by-one as they stood inside the now-famous Fenix capsule.

The five visiting miners – Luis Urzúa, Daniel Herera, Jorge Galleguillos, Renán Ávalos and Florencio Ávalos – were honored at a machinery exhibition being held in the city of Shanghai, where they expressed their gratitude to the company and to China for their part in the rescue.

Luis Urzúa, the the shift leader when the men were trapped in the San Jose mine near the city of Copiapó, said that the men had received lots of Chinese support throughout their ordeal.

“When we were underground we received many letters, including from China,” he said in an article from Spanish news agency EFE.

The miners added they were very excited to visit Shanghai, where a replica of the Fenix capsule had been on display the city’s global Expo 2010 in the days after the rescue.

While in the city they had a tour of the Bund, a waterfront area which is a main tourist attraction for China’s financial district. They will also travel to Beijing and Changsa, about 1,500 km south of the capital, to visit Sany’s plants and speak with its employees about their experience, along with taking in sights such as the Great Wall.

“The experience of these 33 miners teaches us that solidarity and mutual support are essential,” Zhou Fugui, vice president of Sany, said in EFE.

In recent days the miners have also appeared on the international news channel CNN for its annual Heroes program alongside celebrities such as Halle Berry and Demi Moore.

This post is also available in Spanish