|Chilean President Sebastian Pinera hugs Florencio Avalos, one of the miners lifted to safety after more than 2 months underground: Jose Manuel De La Maza/Chilean Presidential Press Office/Associated Press|
SAN JOSÉ MINE, Chile — Two of the 33 miners who had been trapped underground for two months ascended to the surface here early Wednesday morning, the beginning of the end of a rescue operation that has inspired the nation and riveted the world.
The first miner, Florencio Ávalos, 31, traveled up a narrow, nearly half-mile rescue shaft in a specially designed capsule that officials had been testing for much of Tuesday. Shortly after midnight, horns blared as the capsule reached the surface with Mr. Ávalos inside. With a look of sturdy calm, he hugged his family, his nation’s president and the workers around him before being taken away on a stretcher, giving a thumbs-up as he left.
The second miner to be lifted out, Mario Sepúlveda, 39, followed about an hour later.
The rescue had finally begun.
“This is a marvelous start,” said Rodrigo Pedreros, 34, a fireman watching at the mine. “I’m praying it all goes well.”
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