All 33 Chilean Miners Rescued in What Country's President Calls a 'Miracle'

VIDEO: Crowds join President Sebastian Pinera in song as the final miner is rescued.
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All 33 Chilean miners have ascended to freedom in what Chile's president described as a "miracle."

The miners were entombed for 10 weeks, the longest time ever before a successful rescue.

"What started as a tragedy is ending as a real blessing," Chilean President Sebastian Pinera told ABC News' Diane Sawyer. "I think that the miners have given us an example of unity, of teamwork, of faith. Their families, they never lost faith."

The 33rd and final miner to emerge was Luis Urzua, the shift foreman when the collapse occurred who showed inspiring leadership throughout the ordeal. He exited the capsule around 9:57 p.m. local time.

"We have done what the entire world was waiting for," Urzua told Pinera after his rescue, according to an Associated Press translation. "The 70 days that we fought so hard were not in vain. We had strength, we had spirit, we wanted to fight, we wanted to fight for our families, and that was the greatest thing."

The president told him: "You are not the same, and the country is not the same after this. You were an inspiration. Go hug your wife and your daughter."

The president, with Urzua beside him, then led the crowd in singing the national anthem.

For full coverage of the miners' rescue, stay tuned to ABC News. Watch "World News" at 6:30 p.m. ET, then "A Special Edition of 20/20: Miracle at the Mine," anchored by Diane Sawyer at 10 p.m. ET, and a special edition of "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET.

As the miners have emerged, they generally have embraced family members, and exchanged hugs and brief words with President Pinera and mine officials before laying down on a stretcher to be taken to a triage area.

After Urzua, only members of the rescue crew remained below in the mine, and they continued to be hoisted back to the surface.

By 11:30 p.m. ET, the last rescuer was hoisted back to surface - ending the more than two month ordeal for both the miners and their families.

The first miner surfaced shortly after midnight local time, and the painstaking extractions continued overnight and throughout the day. The well-oiled operation picked up speed as it went on, with miners eventually surfacing from the 28-inch-diameter hole nearly every half hour.

Initial estimates had the rescues taking about an hour each and extending well into Thursday or beyond.

"It was a miracle, because on the first day the odds were against us," Pinera said. "At the end of the day, the miners were in the hands of God."

For a video slideshow of the dramatic rescue efforts, click here. The videos show all mine workers at the moment they leave the capsule and embrace their loved ones.

After being examined at a triage unit on site, miners were transported via helicopter to a hospital in the nearby city of Copiapo.

At the hospital this afternoon, Chilean Health Minister Jaime Manalich said one of the miners had pneumonia and two others will need minor dental surgery. Some miners also had eye ulcers.

Manalich expected all of the miners would be at the hospital by 4 a.m. local time Thursday and most would get to go home no later than Monday.

The Chilean rescue effort has drawn praise from around the world, and Chilean President Pinera said his country's experience could provide valuable lessons on disaster response.

"In our case, we didn't waste a second. From the very first moment, we decided to take full responsibility for the rescue effort," Pinera said. "Second lesson, never lose your faith and hope. Never give up!"

This afternoon, President Obama spoke about the miners in the White House Rose Garden, noting the "joy of people everywhere" at the news of each successful rescue.

"This rescue is a tribute not only to the determination of the rescue workers and the Chilean government but also of the Chilean people, who have inspired the world," Obama said. "I want to express the hopes of the American people that the miners who are still trapped underground will be returned home safely as soon as possible."

Miners Rejoice at Freedom

The journey to the surface reportedly was a bumpy one as the small cylindrical cage that freed the miners bumped back and forth on the way up and down, rattling the cramped riders.

"The Phoenix is performing extraordinarily well," Manalich said this morning. "The journey times to the surface are shorter than we estimated. The capsule is not suffering damage. The communication and monitoring systems used on the miners are working excellently."

A raucous cheer went up shortly after midnight local time as the first miner, Florencio Avalos, emerged from a rescue capsule wearing a helmet and sunglasses to protect his eyes from the nighttime lights at the San Jose Mine. Waiting on the surface was a crowd of hundreds, including family members and reporters. Some have stood vigil since the Aug. 5 mine collapse near the northern Chilean city of Copiapo, 500 miles north of Santiago.

The first miner to escape, Avalos, 31, hugged members of his family, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and onlookers. He then was wheeled away on a stretcher to a triage area where the rescued miners were being assessed.

A second miner, Mario Sepulveda, 40, stepped out of the rescue capsule around an hour later -- and also was met with hugs all around, according to a live Chilean government television feed.

After hugging his wife, he reached into a bag and pulled out rocks -- souvenirs of the mine that was his prison for more than two months. Sepulveda gave them to Chile's president and the rescue workers.

Seemingly full of energy after his release, at one point he bounded to a crowd of his countrymen and led them in an enthusiastic national chant.

"I was with God and I was with the devil, but God won," Sepulveda said later in Spanish. "At no point in time did I doubt that God would get me out of there."

The oldest of the miners, 63-year-old Mario Gomez, presented one of the greatest health concerns for officials, but seemed fairly healthy when he happily emerged. Gomez hugged his family as he stepped out of the rescue capsule and, before leaving the site, dropped to his knees and prayed.

Gomez suffers from silicosis, a lung disease caused by breathing in silicone dust during his 50 years in the mines.

Elizabeth Henriquez, whose brother Jose Henriquez still was awaiting his turn for rescue, was beaming as she spoke on "Good Morning America" today.

Through a translator, Henriquez said she couldn't wait for her brother to come out and that the first thing she's going to tell him is that she missed him very much and loves him. She added that she doubted he would want to go back to work in the mine anytime soon.

Testing the Phoenix Capsule at the Mine

For the first two to three hours of the operation, officials ran tests of the steel Phoenix rescue capsule, including runs up and down the rescue shaft with the capsule empty or containing rescue workers or equipment.

As the initial tests proceeded, rescue workers chanted a modified cheer popularized during Chile's World Cup soccer games: "Vamos, vamos Chilenos, porque esta noche tenemos que ganar," the chant traditionally goes, which translates to, "Come on, come on Chileans, tonight we have to win."

In this case, the end of the chant was being modified to say, "Y los tenemos que sacar," which means, "And we've got to get them out."

ABC News Diana Alvear, Lee Ferran, Bradley Blackburn and Michael S. James contributed to this report, as did The Associated Press and Reuters.

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