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

After 10 weeks entombed, miners appear mostly healthy, though one has pneumonia.

ByABC News
October 13, 2010, 1:13 AM

Oct. 13, 2010— -- 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."