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Chile Mine Rescue Ongoing

Alfonso Avalos, right, father of the first trapped miner to be rescued, Florencio Avalos, embraces a relative while watching on TV the rescue operation for his son. Natacha Pisarenko/AP hide caption

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Natacha Pisarenko/AP

Last night, it began. The capsule lowering steadily thousands of feet into the dark and bringing up those trapped in the earth for 69 days. As the first came into the air, cheers went up, champagne flowed, cars honked in Santiago. The whole nation of Chile, it seemed, exulted in pure joy. "Chile! Viva Chile!" cried the crowd at the mine.

Rescued miner Juan Andres Illanes Palma, center left, third miner to be rescued, salutes at his arrival to the surface. Roberto Candia/AP hide caption

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Roberto Candia/AP

And slowly, they emerged, one by one into the air. Florencio Avalos, Mario Sepulveda, Juan Llanes, Carlos Mamani... The list grew as the night went on.

The incredible regularity, every hour, another man stepped out of the shaft. It seems, at this point, that all 33 men will be out by tomorrow afternoon.

The last man out is slated to be Luis Urzua, the shift supervisor. He is being credited with the leadership that helped the men endure 17 days with no contact with the outside world. The miners made 48 hours of rations last before rescuers reached them.

You can follow NPR's coverage of the mine rescue here — and on The Two-Way.