TODAY   |  October 13, 2010

Rescued miners greeted with cheers, tears

One by one, 33 trapped miners are being lifted out Chile’s San Jose mine for emotional reunions with loved ones who have waited more than two months for their safe return. TODAY’s Natalie Morales and NBC’s Kerry Sanders report from Copiapo.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and good morning. welcome to "today" on a wednesday morning.

>> the ninth miner has just come out of that mine. and you think that those men have been down there for 70 days, each time one comes up, it's just a remark m image. they embrace family members and they look incredibly well.

>> they are sending that capsule down a half a mile under ground, about one miner per hour being brought to the surface and as you mentioned, the scene when they get to the top is emotional to say the least.

>> when the second miner came up, also named mario, he got out of the capsule, and he ran around the crowd leading them in a chant. now they're calling him supermario.

>> some of the miners bringing rocks up with them. you would think they would have seen enough of rocks in the last few days. the makeshift village set up at the mine has been dubbed camp hope , natalee morales.

>> it is an emotional scene, it has been a very long and exhausting night, a very long and exhausting 70 days for these families, but this is a scene that is going to be played out over and over again "today" and possibly even into tomorrow. a miracle at the mine, after 70 days trapped under ground, the first miner emerged. just after midnight local time wednesday morning, 31-year-old florencio alvaros. was brought to the surface. the raw emotion is captured by hundreds of supporters. it's impossible to have a dry eye, as you can see those very first moments, the very first hug, a very emotional experience. and seeing the grown men out there t reporters out there covering this story, everybody's crying. one hour later, the second miner emerged. mario sepulveda embraced his wife. then an unexpected moment. sepulveda reached inside his bag and brought out only rocks. and this miner known as the comedian of the bunch, laughed it up with the president of the chile. this all began on august 5 when the golden copper mine collapsed. 17 days later, a small drill broke through with remarkable news, the miners september a noa note to the surface saying they were alive. for more than two months the world watched as the miners hoped and prayed for a rescue . above ground, more than 1,000 experts planned the meticulous rescue , while family members gathered at what is now called camp hope , tuesday many of the women spent the last few hours getting ready, having their hair done, putting on makeup. baby esperanza which means hope is waiting for her father. throughout the overnight, almost every hour on the hour, rescue after rescue after rescue . over and over these brave men won the hearts of people all over the world. 33 miners, once strangers, now international heroes . and as you just saw, the ninth miner just pulled out of that hole. he's actually mario gomez , he's been taken into the triage area where they're going to do a medical evaluation. mario gomez is the oldest miner, he's 63 years old and they had some concern about his medical condition , he does have a heart condition and he has some respiratory conditions as well. they brought him up with an oxygen mask . they put the oxygen mask once again over his face as they sent him to the triage area. all of the miners have been in incredible physical and mental condition. the minute they jump out of that capsule, and some of them have literally jumped out of that cab suddenly. -- capsule.

>> it's so emotional up here, you and natt have been up all night. can you describe the emotions there?

>> it's electric, everybody's running on adrenaline. the folks who have been camping out here for 69, 70 days, who never gave up are wired. they are wired. and what i find interesting is some of the family members after their loved ones have come up, because we now have nine miners who have come up, the loveds ones aone s are remaining here to watch the others come up. it's they have bonded the way the 33 miners have bonded. the nation here has unified in a way that rarely happens in any country.

>> and in fact, if our cameraman, carlos, can pan over there, you can see an example of the crowds with each rescue you see there, a show of solidarity, a celebration here, this is what is going on over and over again now with the ninth rescue , next will be number ten and of course this is a very long process. it's going to be a very long day following a very long and emotional night. so clearly everybody's still on pins and needles until number 33 is out, they're not going to breathe a sigh of relief.

>> to see the engineers pull this off, but it is working like clock work, everything they said this fenix capsule was supposed to do, it is doing. all indications are that it's working like a charm.

>> natalee , as we understand, the last guy out will be the shift supervise from that day, someone who has become kind of a leader down there? it's interesting because they were all fighting over not who would be first out there, but who would be last and he is leader, luis, osua who actually helped them, who said we're going to ration the food like nobody's business, we're only going to have two spoon fulls of tuna each a day. in all crisis situations, it takes one person to take the helm. and the reason he's coming up last, is like the captain of a ship, he's the last one coming up.

>> so many hugs here, meredith, and a lot of thanks to the rescuers and all of the people who have been involved in this really superhuman and miraculous effort.

>> it really is, natalee and kerry in copiapo, chile this morning, in a great moment of national pride .