Chilean miners rescue: escape capsule begins rescue of trapped men
The 33 trapped Chilean miners are counting down the minutes to their rescue as the NASA-built escape capsule arrives at the rescue platform 622 meters underground.
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Seconds before each miner surfaces, a siren will sound and a light will flash for a minute to alert doctors to an arriving miner.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Chile mine rescue
In Pictures Chile mine collapse
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After initial medical checks and visits with family members selected by the miners, the men will be flown to the hospital in Copiapo, a 10-minute ride away. Two floors have been prepared where the miners will receive physical and psychological exams and be kept under observation in a ward as dark as a movie theater.
Families were urged to wait and prepare to greet the miners at home after a 48-hour hospital stay. Manalich said no cameras or interviews will be allowed until the miners are released, unless the miners expressly desire it.
Neighbors looked forward to barbecues and parties to replace the vigils held since their friends were trapped.
Urzua's neighbors told the AP that he probably insisted on being the last one up.
"He's a very good guy — he keeps everybody's spirits up and is so responsible — he's going to see this through to the end," said neighbor Angelica Vicencio, who has led a nightly vigil outside the Urzua home in Copiapo.
U.S. President Barack Obama praised rescuers, who include many Americans. "While that rescue is far from over and difficult work remains, we pray that by God's grace, the miners will be able to emerge safely and return to their families soon," he said.
Chile has promised that its care of the miners won't end for six months at least — not until they can be sure that each miner has readjusted.
Psychiatrists and other experts in surviving extreme situations predict their lives will be anything but normal.
Since Aug. 22, when a narrow bore hole broke through to their refuge and the miners stunned the world with a note, scrawled in red pen, disclosing their survival, their families have been exposed in ways they never imagined. Miners had to describe their physical and mental health in minute detail with teams of doctors and psychologists. In some cases, when both wives and lovers claimed the same man, everyone involved had to face the consequences.