The first of 33 trapped Chilean miners is brought to the surface safely.
After 69 days trapped underground, the first of 33 Chilean miners have been brought back to the surface safely.
31 year old Florencio Avalos freed himself from the steel tube sent down to rescue him and hugged his family -- his son in tears of joy.
When the steel rescue cage arrived in the mine, Avalos was quickly strapped into place for the 16-minute ascent to the surface.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera address the crowd after Avalos was safely above ground.
(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CHILEAN PRESIDENT SEBASTIAN PINERA SAYING:
"When Chile unites, and we always do in times of adversity, we are capable of great things. The courage of our people and the soul of our country shows the best of itself in difficult times."
Next to arrive was Mario Sepulveda who brought with him pieces of the mine for his colleagues waiting above ground.
The miners have been living nearly a half a mile underground for over two months, after the collapse of the gold and copper mine.
The mine in northern Chile has served as a base camp for family and friends anxiously awaiting rescue efforts.
Rescue efforts are expected to continue for at least the next 48 hours.
Julie Noce, Reuters.