The video: The first of Chile's 33 trapped miners emerged from a half mile underground early Wednesday, marking the beginning of the end of a 69-day ordeal and triggering a chorus of cheers from rescuers, well-wishers, and the gathered families of all the men. The first evacuee — foreman Florencio Avalos, 31 — immediately embraced his sobbing wife and 7-year-old son before receiving a hug from Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. The crew immediately began lowering the bullet-shaped rescue capsule back into the ground to continue the job and carry the next miner on the 14-minute ride to safety. (Watch a video clip below showing the rescue of the first miner.) The rescue operation is expected to continue until Thursday.
The reaction: It was "the moment the world has awaited for more than two months," says Steven Bodzin in The Christian Science Monitor. Incredibly, these brave miners "have been underground longer than anyone who has made it out alive." It's an "amazing story of perseverance," says Glenn Davis at Mediaite. Of course, this "ordeal" won't truly be over until all the miners are back above ground. But "this is a heartening start." Watch the footage: