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Published: Wednesday, 10/13/2010

First of 33 trapped Chilean miners rescued


SAN JOSE MINE, Chile — Florencio Avalos, the first of 33 miners to be rescued, has surfaced after 69 days underground.

He stepped out of a rescue capsule amid sobs from his young son and received a bracing bear hug from Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.

Mr. Avalos smiled widely as he hugged rescuers, then Mr. Pinera, as his wife, two sons, and father looked on. His 7-year-old son Bairo sobbed, as did Chile's first lady, Cecilia Morel. Then Mr. Avalos was escorted into a medical triage center for the first of a battery of tests.

The plan was for the rescue capsule to be sent back into the mine. The other 32 miners were to be brought to the surface one-by-one. The whole process was expected to take more than 24 hours.

The 69 days the miners spent below the surface was the longest anyone has ever been trapped underground and survived.

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