TODAY   |  October 14, 2010

Chile mine rescue: Mission accomplished

After being trapped more than half a mile below the earth’s surface for 70 days, 33 Chilean miners were hoisted out of the San Jose mine and reunited with friends, family and loved ones. TODAY’s Natalie Morales reports from Chile.

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

>>> welcome to "today" on this thursday morning. i'm meredith vieira .

>> i'm matt lauer .

>> you think about what this rescue operation achieved in chile. how long it took opposed to expectations and what the results were, it's flawless.

>> did you watch last night?

>> not up to the very end. until miner 31.

>> i watched the last miner come out. as everybody said, it's truly as dramatic for the last as the first. a remarkable story. they thought it would take up to two days to bring the men to the surface. it actually took less than 24 hours when that last miner came out, a little past 9:00, i think.

>> i amazing success. we were talking here yesterday morning, you had the rescue workers still there after the miners. imagine being the last rescue worker thinking, baby, don't break now. i'm alone down here. they got out as well. today, national correspondent, natal natalie morales had a front seat, live at the mine. good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. it struck me there's a real sense of calm here, a peace they haven't felt in the last ten weeks until last night, when that last miner was pull out. this morning, the families, who remained here at "camp hope" will pack up, they get to go home once again, get back to their lives with their loved ones now safe. mission accomplished . just before 10:00 p.m . local time wednesday, the shift manager luis urzua became the last man out. before he even knew they were alive, he helped them survive on two days of food. like a good captain, you leave last, said chilean's president. he told the president, i'm proud to be chilean. in the end, the remarkable rescue of the 33 miners took less than 24 hours . his 7 year old son's tears brought the wrorld to tears. 23-year-old richard got out just in time, his wife at home having contractions. he got out just in time. and yonni barrios was welcomed not by his wife but his mistress of 10. his wife chose not to come to the rescue. barrios was known as the doctor, trained emt, monitored the men's health everyday. and marios had health problems. i spoke to his daughter.

>> it was so beautiful, like a re birth, she said. now, the family is back together. the world has come to know who they are. especially this man, now known as " super mario ." he practically burst out of the capsule telling the world, i met god, i met the devil, god won. 33 times, the chant kept coming.

>> chi-le! chi-chi-chi-!

>> reporter: the rescue mission many thought impossible, now complete. the rescuers held up a sign saying " mission accomplished ." now, rescuers here say they do believe in miracles. of course, these miners now, what's happening the next 48 hours , in the hospital, they really be thoroughly evaluated, get medical attention they now need. if they need no further treatment, they'll soon be allowed to go home and get back with their families and make up for lost time . matt.

>> we haven't seen anything quite like this, there have been similar circumstances. we all know what happens, these miners or people that get rescued, become hot commodities and book offers, what are they expecting with these 33?

>> reporter: they made a pact when they were down in the mine shaft and said they will stick together. it will be very interesting, i think, to see what they decide to do as a group collectively or if they start to break away . who knows. we have to stand by for that one. the chi chilean government asked for now, let them get back to their routines and daily life, as much a normal life as they can. their lives have changed so much, with that last one coming out last night, they're international celebrity, superheroes now, one of them, even " super mario " and their future is pretty secure. they're certainly not going back into the mines, i can tell you that, their families say no way.

>> i can understand that. great job covering the story. thank