Top 6 most triumphant stories of 2010

6. Survival stories

UPI /Newscom
On Aug. 22, Chile's President Sebastian Pinera holds a note from miners trapped in a collapsed mine in Copiapo, Chile. The note says the miners, 33 of them, are OK in a shelter.

The Haiti quake brought us its share of survival tales, but few were more heartwarming than the rescue of Baby Jenni.

Monitor correspondent Kathy Klarreich was driving through the Canape Vert neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, just days after the Jan. 12 earthquake, when she notice a man standing on a pile of rubble.

I roll down the window and ask, "What’s up?" The guy on my side of the street says, "There’s a baby alive beneath the debris."

I look again at the pile – it’s huge. I can’t say how tall it is in feet but it’s an entire hillside of rubble. "They need professionals," I say to Lara, "Let’s look for the number of some rescue squad to call."

But before I have a chance to pull out my phone, I hear the guy on top of the hill shout, "Li vivant, li vivant!" I see him running down the hill with a baby in his hands.

Kathy and a colleague race to get the 2-month-old injured infant to a UN triage unit. Baby Jenni is later flown to Florida for treatment – the first Haitian accepted into the US for care after the quake. Later, Kathy tracks down Jenni's mother, and the family is eventually reunited.

Lost (and found) at Sea

Three teenage boys set off from a Samoan island on Oct. 5 and were lost at in the South Pacific. Search and rescue efforts by the New Zealand military came up empty. Funerals were held. Then, 50 days later, the boys were found 800 miles away, thin, sunburned, and thirsty, but alive.

A tuna trawler, well outside the normal commercial shipping routes, found the boys floating in their aluminium boat. They told their rescuers they had survived on rainwater, two coconuts they had brought, and by eating raw fish and a seagull that had landed on their little boat.

Light in the dark

No event this year inspired the world like the rescue of the Chilean miners. For the first 17 days, nothing was heard. Then, the first glimmer of hope. A handwritten note emerged from 2,300-feet under ground, attached to a probe lowered to search for signs of life: "Estamos been en el refugio los 33" that is: "the 33 of us are doing well in the shelter." Chilean President Sebastian Piñera famously held it up for all to see.

For the next 52 days, the world waited and watched as some of the latest in drilling technology was used to bore a hole to the miners location. NASA offered advice on how to keep the men's spirits up. A communication line was lowered and the first sound that emerged was the muffled Chilean national anthem, sung by the trapped miners when they heard that the whole nation was praying for them. It brought tears to the eyes of rescuers.

Wives and girlfriends on the surface were encouraged to send notes down the tiny shaft in tubes, nicknamed "palomas" or doves. "Can you imagine? After 30 years of marriage we will start sending each other love letters again," said Lilianett Ramírez, whose 63-year-old husband, Mario Gómez was one of the trapped men.

On Oct. 13, shortly after midnight local time, Florencio Ávalos became the first of 33 miners to emerge into Chile's cool Atacama Desert. He was met on the surface by tears of joy, long hugs, and a shared global release of relief and delight.

The Chilean mine rescue was a collective success, epitomized by calm and determined miners rationing supplies and working as a team in the dark while an entire nation mobilized – with the help of many others. The result was a stirring victory shared around the globe.

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