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First men rescued from Chilean mine

Rescuers have begun pulling 33 men out of the collapsed Chilean mine one by one, ending their 69 days trapped 600 metres underground.

Florencio Avalos, 31, was the first man to be rescued with a missile-like escape capsule. He emerged from the ground wearing a helmet and sunglasses to protect him from the glare of rescue lights. Avalos was greeted by his wife and seven-year-old son Bairo, as well as Chilean president Sebastian Pinera and other rescuers.

The next miner to be freed, Sepulveda Espina, arrived at surface level about an hour later. Shouting in celebration, he climbed out of the capsule and immediately hugged his wife, president Pinera and the rescuers, before handing them rocks as souvenirs from his underground home.

A third Chilean miner, Juan Illanes, followed after another hour, and then the lone Bolivian, Carlos Mamani, was pulled out. Eight have now been rescued.

Through the first four rescues, the operation stuck to a schedule announced earlier to get all the miners out in about 36 hours.

Shift foreman Luis Urzua will be the last miner out. His leadership has been credited for helping the men endure 17 days with no outside contact after the collapse. The men made 48 hours of rations last before rescuers reached them with a narrow borehole to send down more food.

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