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The Chilean miners: Brief recaps of their first moments above ground
The world watched as Chile's stranded miners were rescued from their underground prison. Each man's reception tells a small, heartwarming tale
 
After 22 hours, all of the miners were successfully rescued from their underground cell.
After 22 hours, all of the miners were successfully rescued from their underground cell.
Corbis/ Marcelo Hernandez

It was an unforgettable 22 hours in Chile, as rescue crews seamlessly pulled all 33 "miracle" miners up, one by one, ending their 69 days trapped almost a half-mile underground. All six medics and engineers sent down to help the miners escape were lifted out a few hours later. "We have lived a magical night, a night we will remember throughout our lives, a night in which life defeated death," said President Sebastián Piñera. Here's a brief look at each miner and his first moments back on the surface:

33.  Luis Urzua Iribarren
The miners' foreman, the 54-year-old volunteered to be the last miner up. When he stepped out of the capsule, 1,000 balloons were released, and Darwin Cortez, the brother of miner Pedro Cortez, sprayed the cheering crowd with champagne. "A shift of 70 days, that's a long shift," Urzua said. He embraced President Piñera, then led the rescue team in a round of the Chilean national anthem.

32. Ariel Ticona Yañez
Ticona's wife, Elizabeth Segovia, gave birth to their daughter, named Esperanza (Spanish for hope), on Sept. 14. The 29-year-old watched a video of the birth while trapped in the mine. Elizabeth, without Esperanza, embraced him when he stepped out. "Your daughter is waiting for you," Piñera said.

31. Pedro Cortez Contreras
Cortez, 24, was greeted by his 7-year-old daughter, who handed him balloons in the colors of Chile's flag. He is separated from his wife. Local press reports say his neighbors have stockpiled "enormous quantities of beer, wine, and pisco" for his homecoming party.

30. Raul Bustos Ibañez
The 40-year-old hydraulics engineer's wife, Carolina Narvaez, was at the cage to embrace the man she calls "the luckiest unlucky man on earth." Bustos started working at the mine after the giant Chilean earthquake in February destroyed his business, and he was on overtime when the mine collapsed.

29. Juan Carlos Aguilar Gaete
Aguilar, 49, was greeted with a long embrace from his wife, Cristy Coronado. The mine is almost 1,000 miles from their home in Los Lagos.

28. Richard Villarroel Godoy
Villarroel was greeted by his sister and mother, whom he reportedly never told he was a miner, even after two years on the job. The 27-year-old mechanic is very close to being a father, and his partner, the very pregnant Dana Castro, did not make the trip to the mine.

27. Franklin Lobos
A former pro soccer star nicknamed "the Magic Mortar" for his powerful free kicks, Lobos, 53, was met with soccer-like cheers of "Ole! Ole! Ole!" — then handed a soccer ball, which he juggled on his foot a few times before being whisked away on a stretcher. Spanish soccer star David Villa, himself from a mining family, sent Lobos a signed shirt in the mine.

26. Claudio Acuña Cortez
Acuña, who celebrated either his 44th or 56th birthday in the mine (reports vary), had an emotional reunion with his mother, girlfriend, and 2-year-old daughter, who during his ascent pointed at the shaft and said, "Daddy is going to come out of there."

25. Renan Avalos Silva
The brother of the first miner rescued, Renan Avalos, 29, said his nine-minute journey in the Phoenix 2 was "really beautiful." He had only been working at the mine for four months before its collapse.

24. Jose Henriquez Gonzalez
A 54-year-old drill operator and part-time evangelical preacher, Henriquez led prayer services in the mine. His wife of 33 years, Blanca Hettiz Berrios, greeted him.

23. Carlos Bugueño Alfaro
Described by a brother as "a man of few words," the 27-year-old gave two brief hugs then headed off for his medical exam. Bugueño is the childhood friend of rescued miner No. 31, Pedro Cortez.

22. Samuel Avalos Acuña
Avalos, 43, reportedly viewed his time trapped in the mine as penance for his earlier drug and alcohol addiction. He greeted his longtime girlfriend, Ruth Guzman, with a long kiss. "Welcome back to life and Chile," President Piñera told him.

21. Yonni Barrios Rojas
The 50-year-old made international headlines when his wife, Marta Salina, and his mistress met awkwardly as both were holding vigil near the mine. Upon being rescued, Barrios was met by his mistress, but not his wife. "I am happy because he made it, it's a miracle of God," his wife said. "But I'm not going to see the rescue."

20. Darío Segovia Rojo
A carrier pigeon handler, 48, he plans to start a vegetable business with the money he makes from his ordeal. His sister, Elizabeth, served tea to keep those on the scene today warm. "At first I only had one brother down there but now all of them are my brothers," she said. "With each one that comes up, I feel a new happiness."

19. Pablo Rojas Villacorta
According to his wife of 21 years, the 45-year-old requested his favorite dish, spaghetti with sauce, upon his return. He wants it the "way my mother makes it," she said. "He thinks she is a better cook than me."

18. Esteban Rojas Carrizo
This 44-year-old brother to Pablo Rojas Villacorta knelt and made the sign of the cross upon exiting the rescue capsule. His partner of 25 years, Jessica Yanez, hugged him. The two never married, but Rojas Carrizo wrote her a note from the underground that read, "When I do get out, we will buy a dress and get married."

17. Omar Reygadas Rojas
The 56-year-old electrician's successful rescue signaled that efforts were past the halfway point. He was greeted at the surface by three of his sons, one of them bearing a video camera. After being released from his rescue harness, he fell to his knees, clutching what looked to be a bible, while one of his sons hugged him.

16. Daniel Herrera Campos
The 27-year-old threw his arms around his mother after emerging from an increasingly scratched and banged-up rescue capsule. A truck driver, he thanked each rescue worker one-by-one.

15. Victor Segovia Rojas
Described as "the group's official biographer," Segovia plans to write a book about the experience. In a letter to his family, the 48-year-old wrote "this hell is killing me. I try to be strong but when I sleep suddenly I dream we are in an oven." President Piñera told him he would be embarking on a "new life."

14. Victor Zamora
The mechanic greeted his pregnant wife with a long kiss. "From now you will lead a good life with your wife," Piñera told the 33-year-old.

13. Carlos Barrios Contreras
The 27-year-old shift leader stepped out into the sunlight and gave his brother a hug. While below ground, he had complained to family members that the psychologists were mistreating the miners.

12. Edison Peña Villarroel
The 34-year-old Elvis fan reportedly jogged an hour underground each day to stay fit. "Please take a picture, please," he said as he hugged his wife after his journey up to the surface. He has already received an invitation to visit Graceland.

11. Jorge Galleguillos Orellana
Orellana, a recently divorced 56-year-old, got a hug from Bolivian President Evo Morales when he emerged from the rescue capsule.

10. Alex Vega Salazar
The 31-year-old heavy machinery mechanic, whose father was also a miner, gave a thumbs-up as he came out of the capsule. Chile's mining minister tweeted: "Alex Vega emerging into the Atacama sun!"

9. Mario Gomez Heredia
Heredia, at 63 the oldest miner in the group, was reportedly the spiritual leader underground. "I looked back on my life," he said as his fellow miners were rescued. "I'm a different man now. I'm a changed man."

8. Claudio Yañez Lagos
This 34-year-old announced his engagement underground after his girlfriend proposed to him via letter. He was the first miner to emerge during daylight hours and was greeted by his new fiancée.

7. José Ojeda Vidal
This 56-year-old secretary triumphantly unfurled a Chilean flag after emerging from the rescue shaft. A diabetic, Vidal reportedly suffers from kidney problems and was part of the group marked "weak" for rescue efforts. He wrote the note that first told the world that the miners were still alive, 17 days after the mine collapse.

6. Osman Isidro Araya
"Thank you all for helping us, thank you all so much," the 30-year-old father said, after giving his wife two kisses. Concerned about the dangers, he had planned to quit working at the mine within a few weeks.

5. Jimmy Sanchez Laguez
The 19-year-old environmental assistant is the youngest of the miners and reportedly one of the "worst psychologically affected," according to his fellow miners — but he managed a big smile as he was carried from the rescue site on a stretcher.

4. Carlos Mamani Solis
The sole Bolivian among the miners, 24, said "Thank you, Chile!" upon his rescue. His wife, Veronica, wore red lipstick and blue eyeshadow when she greeted him.

3. Juan Illanes Palma
An electrical mechanic and former soldier, 52, saluted as he exited the rescue capsule. The journey to the surface was "like a cruise," he said.

2. Mario Sepulveda
The 40-year-old, known as "the presenter," acted as the group's spokesman on the videos they sent up. He grew so accustomed to the job, he ended one video saying "over to you in the studio." He handed out rocks containing gold to rescuers, and said, "I met God. I met the devil. God won."

1. Florencio Avalos
Judged to be in the best condition by his fellow miners and best able to deal with any adversities that might arise, Avalos made it to the surface just after midnight. He first hugged his wife and son, then hugged Chile's president.

Sources: The New York Times (2), Momento 24, Telegraph  (2), Herald Sun, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, CNN, USA Today, Diabetes.co.uk, The Evening Standard, Mediaite, AP (2), The Sun, LA Times

 

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