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High emotion as first miners reach the surface

High emotion as first miners reach the surface
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It was an extraordinary moment when Florencio Avalos emerged from the “Fenix 2” rescue capsule after 69 days trapped underground.

He was greeted at the surface by his wife and two sons.

It was pure emotion.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera hugged the 31-year-old as bystanders cheered and clapped.

“Florencio spoke of his gratitude, not only his gratitude but the gratitude of the other men who have been trapped for 69 days, the gratitude towards the Chileans, they felt from the very first moment that they were not alone.”

After words with his family Mr Avalos was ferried to hospital for a medical check up.

The rescue operation began at around 2315 local time and the first miner reached the surface at just after midnight local time.

An hour later, after 16 minutes in the cramped “Fenix 2,” Mario Sepulveda arrived back on terra firma bearing gifts, rocks for his rescuers and the president.

His joy evident and infectious.

Officials say they should be able to rescue one miner per hour and the operation will take around 48 hours.