Miracle At The Mine

October 14, 2010 Updated Oct 14, 2010 at 8:06 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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October 14, 2010 Updated Oct 14, 2010 at 8:06 AM EDT

For the first time in 70 days, there are no miners trapped inside the San Jose mine in Chile.

Instead they are all resting, recovering, rejoicing in a specially outfitted ward at the Copiapo Hospital.

All 33 Chilean miners were raised safely to freedom Wednesday.

The miners survived being trapped underground for 10 weeks - the longest time ever before a successful rescue.

Today, they are heroes to a very proud nation.

"Thank you to everyone, said Luis Urzua, in Spanish. "I feel proud to be Chilean."

Urzua, was the last miner to emerge from the rescue capsule. He exited the capsule around 9:57 p.m. local time.

He served as the shift foreman before the mine collapsed on Aug. 5 and continued to lead his crew after the catastrophe.

"We have done what the entire world was waiting for," Urzua told Pinera after his rescue, according to an Associated Press translation. "The 70 days that we fought so hard were not in vain. We had strength, we had spirit, we wanted to fight, we wanted to fight for our families, and that was the greatest thing."

Urzua's leadership and discipline is credited in saving the men's lives.

"You were the last one out like a good captain," he said in Spanish.

The president, with Urzua beside him, then led the crowd in singing the national anthem.

After Urzua, only members of the rescue crew remained below in the mine.

By 11:30 p.m. ET, the last rescuer was hoisted back to surface - ending the more than two month ordeal for both the miners and their families.

The first miner surfaced shortly after midnight local time Wednesday, and the painstaking extractions continued overnight and throughout the day.

The well-oiled operation picked up speed as it went on, with miners eventually surfacing from the 28-inch-diameter hole nearly every half hour.

Initial estimates had the rescues taking about an hour each and extending well into Thursday or beyond.

For the first two to three hours of the operation, officials ran tests of the steel Phoenix rescue capsule, including runs up and down the rescue shaft with the capsule empty or containing rescue workers or equipment.

"It was a miracle, because on the first day the odds were against us," Pinera said. "At the end of the day, the miners were in the hands of God."