Update (10:15 pm): For our last update of the evening we refer to this celebratory Tweet from The Guardian correspondent Rory Carroll who is in Chile:
Ok, now we party. Mine's the tallest fattest strongest pisco sour.Update (9:45 pm): The six rescue workers remaining in the underground shelter unfurled a banner reading "Mission Accomplished Chile". But as mining minister Lawrence Golborne tweeted "we shouldn't forget" the group of rescuers. (They will return to terra firma tonight).
"We did it the Chilean way, which means the right way," said President Pinera at a press conference that ended minutes ago. He warned that those responsible for the accident on August 5th that blocked the miners initial escape from the mineshaft will "not be held in impunity". "We have experienced a night that we will never forget," added Pinera in English before the assembled press.
Update (9:10 pm): Seventy days after being stuck underground the last trapped worker was finally rescued from the San Jose Mine.
After emerging from the Fenix rescue capsule Luis Urzua expressed how proud he was of his co-workers and was received by a beaming Chilean president. "Viva Chile, shit!" exclaimed Sebastian Pinera before he, Urzua, and dozens of others at Camp Hope gave a rousing rendition of the Chilean national anthem.
Update (8:55 pm): What once seemed like an impossible dream has finally come true! Luis "Don Lucho" Urzua moments ago was the last of the 33 trapped miners to safely return to the surface:
Update (8:40 pm): The Fenix capsule descends the narrow 622-meter deep shaft in order to rescue the final trapped Chilean miner, 54-year-old shift leader Luis Urzua. He hopes to have the same fate as some of his liberated comrades freed today including:
- Franklin Lobos, a former professional soccer player who received support from Spanish soccer star David Villa. (Villa's dad and grandfather used to be miners).
- Renan Avalos, whose brother was the first miner to be rescued.
- Esteban Rojas, who while underground proposed marriage to his girlfriend of 25 years.
- Yonni Barrios, nicknamed "The Doctor" though unfortunately better known for his dalliances.
- Ariel Ticona, the 32nd miner freed and who was daughter named Esperanza ("Hope") was born while he was underground.
All 33 Chilean workers trapped underground since August 5th are expected to be rescued by tonight according to estimates from mining minister Lawrence Golborne. The rescue mission will likely be completed less than 24 hours after Florencio Avalos was the first worker freed late last night.
The rescue operation has earned attention from around the world and international figures have given their solidarity with the survivors and their families. The meticulous planning behind the operation, originally planned for December, has paid off as each of the workers has returned safely to the surface.
Online Sources - The Latin Americanist, The Guardian, Voice of America, and others throughout the updates
Image - MSNBC ("Residents cheer while watching on a large screen the rescue of the last miners trapped in the San Jose mine, in a public square of Copiapo, Wednesday. (Mariana Bazo / Reuters).")