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October 13th, 2010
10:38 AM ET

As they emerge: How each man spent his first moments above ground

CNN Wire Staff

Copiapo, Chile (CNN) - Some gave a thumbs-up, waved Chilean flags, and hugged their loved ones. One dropped to his knees and prayed, while another asked about his dog. One led the crowd in a cheer for Chile. And then they were all wheeled away on stretchers.

These are how the Chilean miners - emerging from the dark San Jose mine after more than two months - savored their first moments above ground.

The first miner to reach the surface, Florencio Avalos, beamed and hugged everyone around him as he walked on the earth's surface for the first time in 69 days. He took a few moments to embrace his weeping family before he was taken away for a medical evaluation amid cheers.

As the second miner, Mario Sepulveda, exited the rescue hole, he reached into a large yellow bag and handed out what appeared to be rocks to officials and rescue workers. Sepulveda cracked jokes in his first moments above ground and led the crowd in a cheer for Chile. As the 40-year-old was hauled away on a stretcher for his medical evaluation, he asked his wife, "How's the dog?"

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Mia

    Does anyone know the process the miners used to determine the order in which the miners would be rescued?

    October 13, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  2. Lillian Carilo

    Each miner appears; A ray of sunshine come up from underground. Unexpected tears; amazement, wonder and joy.

    October 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
  3. Janice Moyer

    I am curious to know what the psychological effects are on the miners that wait their turn and come up last. Are they experience anxiety or fear? How are they coping with the wait?

    October 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
  4. Reggie

    What is the safe room constructed of where the miners were trapped?

    October 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
  5. Bob Willingham

    This kept me awake most of last night...I kept wondering..........how does the last man close and latch the door on the escape capsule? It seems that the work crews have been having dificulty doing this,so how can one man do it if his hands are down and tight-in to his body..if the door isn't closed properly, the capsule cannot be raised. Being claustophobic myself, It bothers me to think of the consequences that could arise from this door not being closed and latched properly.

    October 13, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  6. Valerie Silveri

    Without a doubt, wonderful coverage and does show the World there is hope for good will and unity no matter the circumstances. I think there are millions of people that would like to know something about the actual rescuers we have seen around the clock at the surface point. Not to mention those that went into the tunnel to assist the miners. Thank you for this round the clock coverage with each miner being reuinted with thier families!

    October 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
  7. Isabel Rey

    As I watch the miners being rescued and CNN puts up their photo as they prepare to surface, I see their faces already different from that original photo. It would be interesting to take their picture now and compare it to that first one. They are saying how they are different men now and I suspect that will also be reflected on their faces. Thank God for everyone and everything associated with their rescue. The world needed this story!

    October 13, 2010 at 11:07 am |