Al Jazeera Blogs


Americas

Live blog: Chile mine rescue

Al Jazeera follows the operation in which 33 miners are pulled up through a narrow rescue shaft.

Last modified: 13 Oct 2010 09:19
The first miner was pulled out of the gold and copper mine on Wednesday

Al Jazeera follows the last stage of the rescue of 33 trapped miners in Chile as they get hoisted to the surface one by one through a narrow rescue shaft which took months to drill.

The men have been trapped 600 metres underground after the upper galleries of the San Jose mine in the country's north collapsed on August 5.

01:25 GMT: Pinera says Chile is "not the same" as it was 70 days ago, when the mine collapsed. He praises Chileans across the "length and width" of the country. Behind him, the wheel that has helped raise the "Phoenix" capsule over the past 24 hours, an image that has become symbolic of the rescue, spins as the rescue workers are winched up to the surface.

01:22 GMT: President Sebastian Pinera, who has certainly "owned" this would-be-disaster (and milked it for all the positive PR possible) is now delivering a speech. Pinera, one of Chile's richest people, cannot by law run for another term as president, since the country's constitution forbids immediate re-election.

01:16 GMT: Down in the miners' former living quarters, rescuers mug for the cameras, displaying a white banner that says "Mission Accomplished". The BBC says the entire rescue took 21 hours and 44 minutes.

01:12 GMT: "Now you must go and have your family," President Penira tells Urzua, who has been talking with him and other leaders for around 10 minutes. "Stay in touch".

01:09 GMT: Luis Urzua has made it to the surface, where he was greeted with a speech from the president, who then asked him to stand by his side and sing the national anthem. The crowd exploded with excitement when Urzua made it. After the anthem, Urzua hugged and spoke with several mining officials, with one promising that something like this would never happen again. 

00:46 GMT: The last trapped miner is now ascending the rescue shaft in the Phoenix capsule. The journey was originally estimated to take half an hour, but rescuers have got it down to nine minutes.

00:42 GMT: The capsule is sitting down in the miners' living chamber, and the man called Don Lucho - 54-year-old Luis Urzua - is getting inside. Urzua is the shift supervisor and is credited with maintaining discipline and morale in the miners' underground life. Coming up last.

00:30 GMT: Ariel Ticona, 29, just emerged from the rescue capsule and hugged his wife, who gave birth to his child on September 14. Ticona reportedly watched the birth of the girl on video. She was named Esperanza, or "hope". The "Phoenix" capsule now descends for the last miner, Luis Urzua, though five rescue workers will also have to come up.

09:00 GMT: Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman, reporting from the rescue sit at Copiapo - where night has fallen - says new mining regulations will be put before Chile's Congress tomorrow and she expects their quick approval. Of course, the new regulations must be monitored and implemented. Chile's mines, like the country itself, have been divided by class, Newman said; the larger and more profitable mines also enjoy the best safety. 

06:00 GMT: Pedro Cortez, either 24 or 26, is now the 31st miner to be rescued. Cortez hugged a young girl, possibly his daughter, after he made the surface and got the customary hug from the president. Here at Al Jazeera, we're reporting that nobody in history has spent more time underground than these 33 miners. 

23:51 GMT: Raul Bustos, 40, the 30th miner to be rescued, has now survived Chile's two most recent high-profile disasters. He lost his dog and his job at a shipyard in Talcahuano after it was destroyed by a tsunami following the February 27 earthquake. Bustos had been working in the mine for six months when it collapsed. The New York Times reported that he was reportedly missing his mother's seafood empanadas.

23:14 GMT: Juan Aguilar, 49, the miners' supervisor, has now made it to the surface after a 26-minute wait. He's number 29. The UK Telegraph newspaper reports that President Pinera's popularity has risen from 46 per cent to 57 per cent since the rescues began. Pinera used to own the Chilevision television station before selling it to Time Warner to avoid a conflict of interest.

22:48 GMT: Richard Villarroel, 26, a mechanic whose wife is pregnant, has just reached the surface. Number 28. 

22:17 GMT: Franklin Lobos, 52, a retired professional soccer player in a local league, has become the 27th miner to make it to the surface. Chilean President Pinera is still welcoming each man with a hug as they arrive. Lobos played on the Chilean team that qualified for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, according to the Associated Press. He drives a truck that takes miners to and from the mine, though with book, TV and movie deals on the table, it's unclear if he'll ever do that again.

22:00 GMT: Twenty-six miners are on the surface now. Renan Avalos, 29, was the 25th and Claudio Acuna, 44, was the 26th. Acuna celebrated his birthday in the mine on September 9.

21:04 GMT: Twenty-four miners have now made it out of the collapsed mine. Jose Henriquez was the latest to be evacuated, entering into the waiting embrace of his wife after stepping out of the rescue capsule. 

20:38 GMT: The 23rd miner, Carlos Bugueno, age 27, has been rescued, receiving greetings from family and the Chilean president. Bugueno is a former security guard who says he began working in the mine to be able to save up for a car. 

20:07 GMT: Samuel Avalos - 43 years old and a father of four - is being welcomed at the San Jose mine as the 22nd miner to be evacuated. That makes two-thirds of the miners now rescued.

19:33 GMT: The 21st miner to be rescued is Yonni Barrios, apparently with two women waiting for him on the surface - his wife and his girlfriend. Barrios was known to have helped other miners during their two-month ordeal with his rudimentary medical skills.

Rescue operations overall appear to be speeding up, as workers now know how the evacuation chute holds up, and how the miners react.

19:22 GMT: You can keep up to date with all the latest from Al Jazeera's Monica Villamizar, reporting from Copiapo, via Twitter.

You can also get the latest from 28 other journalists in Chile posting updates to Twitter, courtesy of a list put together by Storyful.com:

19:07 GMT: Dario Segovia has made it to the surface of the collapsed Chile mine, making him the 20th rescued miner. The 48-year-old is a lifelong miner, first going underground with his father at age eight.

18:29 GMT: The 19th rescued mine worker is Pablo Rojas. The 45-year-old has asked to have his favourite meal - pasta with sauce - prepared the way his mother makes it.

18:05 GMT: Esteban Rojas is the 18th miner to be rescued from his underground prison. The 44-year-old was no originally scheduled to be working in the mine on that fateful day, but came in to make up a missed day.

Barack Obama, the US president, meanwhile, has praised the resolve of the Chilean people, saying they have "inspired the world" with the rescue effort.

17:27 GMT: Over half of the Chile miners have been rescued. Laurence Golborne, Chile's mining minister, has held a news conference to update reporters on the situation.

He reiterated that all 33 men could be out of the mine "by the end of the day". He said the miners were now being brought up faster, after the first few rescues were successful. 

Golborne also said a sixth rescue worker would be sent down into the mine to help co-ordinate, and that those rescue workers would be the last ones to be pulled out.

17: 11 GMT: Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman is reporting from San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile. Here's her report on the rescue operations still under way:

16:58 GMT:  Hugo Infante and the Chilean government has been posting dramatic, high quality photos from the scene of the rescue, like this one:

Pictured: Daniel Herrera, the 16th freed miner. See more of their photos on Flickr.

16:43 GMT: Miner number 17 has now been rescued: 56-year-old Omar Reygadas. He has six children, 14 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Reygadas has been a miner all his life, as were his parents, grandparents and uncles. This was the third time he was trapped underground.

16:18 GMT: The Associated Press has an interactive Flash graphic up showing pictures of each of the trapped miners, sorted by age, and including a few other tidbits. Click the image below and check it out:

16:03 GMT: The 16th miner to reach the surface is 27-year-old Daniel Herrera. A truck driver by trade, his sister told reporters that he is keeping his clothes and letters gathered while underground as souvenirs.

Al Jazeera's Monica Villamizar, reporting from the scene of the rescue, said Herrera was being teased by the other trapped miners as a "mama's boy". He has now pledged to be more helpful around the house, she said.

15:10 GMT: Victor Segovia is the 15th rescued miner.

14:43 GMT: In the last hour, the presidents of Chile and Bolivia have been speaking at the mine, as rescue work continues. 

Sebastian Pinera, the Chilean president, told a news conference that all the miners may be out soon:

"We have been rescuing three miners every two hours. Twenty are left, so it’s possible for us to finish today.”

President Evo Morales traveled from Bolivia to greet Carlos Mamani - the only foreign miner who was trapped. He said:

"This is something unforgettable for the Bolivian people and so I would like to say thank you very much to the Chilean people.

"Bolivia will never forget. It's a historical event, it's unprecendented and these types of events join us together ever more."

14:35 GMT: Victor Zamora, 33, is the 14th miner to reach the surface in Copiapo. He is a vehicle mechanic and usually does not work inside the mine, but happened to be there when the mine collapsed.

14:05 GMT: You too can watch a live stream of the mine rescues, via ustream.tv:

13:59 GMT: Thirteenth miner, Carlos Barrios, steps into the sunlight. While trapped underground for 69 days, he found out that his girlfriend was pregnant.

13:46 GMT: Amidst thousands of messages on Twitter and Facebook praying for the safety and health of the miners, and the wall-to-wall coverage on major international news networks, there has been some criticism. 


Journalists, photographers and cameramen cover the rescue operation [AFP]

Jay Rosen, a professor at New York University and noted media critic, posted on his Twitter feed:

A big story and a great story, but does 1300 journalists covering the Chilean miners have anything to do with reality?

What do you think? How much coverage is too much? Leave a comment at the bottom, or weigh in in our Your Views section.

13:17 GMT: Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman, reporting from the Copiapo, reports that the miners are only allowed to have 3 family members waiting to receive them.

After the miners get pulled out, they are being sent for medical exams, she said. First they are triaged on site, and then taken to hospital for a full check-up.

13:11 GMT: A third of the miners have now made it out. Edison Pena, the 12th miner, is reaching the surface now, to cheers and tears, including from his girlfriend and the Chilean president. Pena is apparently an avid Elvis Presley fan. 

12:45 GMT: Eleven miners are now out of the San Jose mine. Some concerns had been flagged over the health of Jorge Galleguillos - the latest to be pulled out. The 56-year-old reportedly suffers from hypertension.

12:00 GMT: Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, has arrived at the site, too late to witness the rescue of the Bolivian national Carlos Mamani.

11:55 GMT: Alex Vega becomes the tenth miner to be rescued.

11:40 GMT: Our picture gallery "The road to rescue" tells how events unfolded after the mine caved in back in August.

11:03 GMT: Mario Gomez is the ninth miner to be reunited with his family as he is pulled up to the surface. He is the oldest of the miners. "He's a very, very experienced miner," Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman, reporting from the mine, said.

"He began mining when he was 12 years old. He was one of those with the strongest will to survive we've been told. Throughout those 17 days [before the miners were discovered alive], with his long experience, he was able to tell the younger ones to remain calm and to have faith they would be rescued."

10:40 GMT: Jaime Manalich, Chile's health minister, says the rescue is going extraordinarily well and that the eight men rescued so far are in good health. He says none of them has needed any special medication, not even the diabetic among them.

10:30 GMT: Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman says the last miner will be pulled out by midday Thursday Chilean time (early morning GMT) "if all goes as well as it has until now".

10:14 GMT: Claudio Yanez is eighth man to be rescued from the mine.

9:45 GMT:  How did it all start? Get all the info here with this Q&A.

9:37 GMT: Reaction to the story from the Twitter-sphere coming from all over, including this tweet from user @JeffLieber who writes: Will remember miner moment for 1: the courage 2: that I watched it live on my cell phone in a diner. For more reaction to the story, check out the Twitter feed in our story.

9:23 GMT: Jose Ojeda becomes seventh man to be successfully rescued from the collapsed mine. Al Jazeera's correspondent, Lucia Newman, a Chilean herself, is reporting from the mine in Copiapo. She said there were concerns about Ojeda because he suffers from diabetes.

"He had to be medicated. There was a lot of fear for his health initially, but he's been stabilised now. His claim to fame is that he is the one who wrote the famous note that was attached to the drill that first reached into the workshop where the miners were, that said: 'We are all alive in the workshop, all 33 of us'.

That was the sign that all of the miners were there and that they were all alive. It has become a famous famous slogan that has been written now all over Chile."

8:51 GMT:  Workers rescue the sixth of 33 men trapped underground - Osman Araya, age 30.

8:25 GMT: Bob Arnot, a medical doctor, tells Al Jazeera that it will probably take several weeks before the miners can get a normal night sleep because they have been without natural sunlight for so long.

8:15 GMT: Al Jazeera's Zeina Awad reports on the rescue operation in this video.

8:00 GMT: Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman, at the mine, says the rescue operation has gone "very smoothly" so far, as the capsule is sent down to get the sixth miner.

7:30 GMT: Sanchez, 19 years old and the son, grandson and brother of miners, says he thinks God may have wanted him to stay in the mine for a while to let him think about changing his life. He says that he's "been thinking and I'm going to change a lot."

7:25 GMT: Mario Sepulveda Espina, who was the second to be pulled to the surface, says in an interview: "I think I had extraordinary luck. ... I was with God and with the devil - and God took me".

7:15 GMT: Jimmy Sanchez, the fifth miner, is up and brought to paramedics for the first check-ups.

7:05 GMT: The 19-year-old Jimmy Sanchez, the youngest trapped miner, is one his way up.

The first of the helicopters supposed to fly the miners to the hospital in Copiapo in groups of four has not yet taken off. Two floors have been prepared at the hospital where the miners will receive physical and psychological exams and be kept under observation in a ward as dark as a movie theatre.

6:25 GMT: Mamani, the fourth to be rescued, is the lone Bolivian in the group. He is greeted by his wife with a hug and kisses as Chile's president and first lady hold small Bolivian flags.

6:15 GMT: Four miners have been pulled out so far: Florencio Avalos, Mario Sepulveda Espina, Juan Illanes, and Carlos Mamani.