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First man down - last man up

First man down - last man up
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The banner read ‘Mission Accomplished.’

As the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners came to an end, the last man to leave was the first of the rescuers to have been lowered into the mine.

Manuel Gonzalez Pavez, an employee of mining company Codelco, was in the mine throughout the entire 22-hour operation.

He was the first to make the journey nearly 700 metres underground as the rescue began on Tuesday night.

During the day-long mission, Gonzalez and his rescue team slept in the mine so as not to use capsule journeys going up to the surface.

After his colleagues and the 33 miners had made their escape, Gonzalez was left alone for nearly half an hour before he too was hauled back to the surface.

Like the 33 miners, he spent nearly 15 minutes cocooned in the Phoenix capsule as it was winched back through the shaft that took weeks to drill.

Cheers rang out at his arrival and minutes later the sealing of the shaft by President Pinera symbolically marked the end of the rescue.

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