Jubilation as Chile mine rescue ends

After more than two months underground, the 33 miners were brought to the surface one at a time in a specially-designed capsule.

  • Ascent 622m
  • Temperature 36°mine 8-18°surface
  • Time 15-20 mins
  • Speed 1m/s
Image showing the mine shaft to scale with person Diagram of the rescue capsule

Rise of the phoenix

The capsule, dubbed "Phoenix" after the mythical bird that rose from the ashes, carried the men nearly half a mile through solid rock in a shaft just wider than a man's shoulders as their two-month ordeal came to an end.

The miners were kitted out with special lightweight, made-to-measure waterproof clothing for the rescue. They also wore a heart rate monitor which measured their vital signs as they were lifted to the surface.

They wore a small oxygen mask and headphones and a microphone allowed them to be in constant contact with the surface. Elastic bandages around the lower legs were used to prevent blood circulation problems on the ascent.

Doctors had been worried about the miners' eyes after the months they have spent without any sunlight. Each man was given dark glasses to avoid damaging their eyesight.

If the capsule had got stuck, the men could have released a series of levers inside the capsule allowing it to be winched back to the bottom of the mine.

But in the end, the journeys up and down the shaft were without incident. Journey times also sped up as the rescue progressed - from about 20 minutes per ascent at the start, to about eight minutes towards the end.

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