Today in History: The Chilean miners are finally rescued

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Remembering Chile's Mine Rescue Miracle



Five years ago today, all 33 of the Chilean miners who were trapped for 69 days in a cave in northern Chile were rescued. The world watched with bated breath as the last of the miners was pulled up. The miners defied expectations -- surviving longer after being trapped underground than anyone in recorded history.



The story of their rescue is so captivating that it was even made into a film called "The 33" starring Antonio Banderas.

The nightmare began when the mine collapsed on August 5, 2010. Shift leader Luiz Urzua told CNN that he felt a rumble -- bigger than anything he's felt before. Moments later, he knew something was wrong.



The news of the collapse and the miners entrapped below quickly spread. The international media covered the story closely and the miners went to extreme standards to survive -- fighting against starvation, rationing whatever food they had left 33 ways, clinging onto whatever hope and faith they could muster up.

After days of no news and no signs of life from the miners, Chilean was preparing itself to memorialize the victims. But on August 22 -- 17 after the miners became trapped, a drilling tool emerged from the mine with a note attached which confirmed that miners were alive.

The note read:

Estamos bien en el refugio los 33 (We are well in the shelter the 33).


Those words became the motto of "Los 33" and soon, cameras were sent down to make contact and capture the movements of the miners. As rescuers and world-class mining and engineering experts devised plans for the extraction, the miners kept occupied and morale up by performing a series of routine jobs.

Following three separate drilling attempts and grueling hours of work, rescuers eventually drilled an escape path and began to extract the miners one-by-one on October 12. The capsule was painted the colors of the Chilean flag -- red, white and blue.

See photos from the incredible rescue of the trapped Chilean miners:
37 PHOTOS
33 Chilean miners rescued after 69 days
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Today in History: The Chilean miners are finally rescued
A drill machine being used to try contact around 33 trapped miners is seen from the distance in Copiapo, Chile, Monday, Aug. 9, 2010. As rescuers continued to work around the clock to reach them, the miners have now been trapped more than 800 yards (meters) below the surface for four days since the main access collapsed with tons of falling rock. (AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo)
Police on horseback patrol near Chilean flags flying at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile, Tuesday Oct. 5, 2010. Chile's President Sebastian Pinera announced that his government is very close to pulling 33 miners to safety after they became trapped on Aug. 5 in the collapsed gold and copper mine. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
A relative of a trapped miner awaits outside the San Esteban gold and copper mine, near the city of Copiapo, in the Atacama desert, 800 kilometers (480 miles) north of Santiago, on August 8, 2010. At least 34 miners were trapped inside the mine after a cave-in, authorities said, although their condition was unknown. (Photo by MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of trapped miner Dario Segovia sleeps at their tent at the relatives camp at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. Andres Sougarett, the Chilean engineer leading the rescue effort, said all would be in place at midnight Tuesday to begin the rescue of the 33 trapped miners. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Elizabeth Segovia, sister of trapped miner Dario Segovia, sits a the camp where relatives wait for the rescue of the miners outside the San Jose mine, Copiapo, Chile, Friday, Oct. 8, 2010. Chile's mining minister says that just 130 feet (39 meters) remain before a drill breaks through to reach the chamber in the collapsed gold and copper mine where 33 trapped miners have waited more than two months to be rescued. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
A boy holds up a flag that was used in southern Chile during February's earthquake next to images of trapped miners at the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. Andres Sougarett, the Chilean engineer leading the rescue effort, said all would be in place at midnight Tuesday to begin the rescue of the 33 trapped miners. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
COPIAPO, CHILE - OCTOBER 11: Chile's Mines Minister Laurence Golborne speaks to the press at the San Jose mine on October 11, 2010 in Copiapo, Chile. According to Chile's mining Minister Laurence Golborne, the rescue of the 33 miners trapped for more than two months nearly half a mile below ground is due to start this Wednesday, October 12, 2010. (Photo by Nicolas Torres/LatinContent/Getty Images)
Relatives of miner Carlos Barrios react while he is brought to surface from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile, on October 13, 2010. Pumping fists, or falling to their knees in prayer, nearly half the 33 miners trapped below ground in Chile for more than two months savored their first taste of freedom Wednesday, rising from the depths to a worldwide heroes' welcome. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
In this screen grab taken from video, rescuers inside the San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile, hold a sign that reads "Mission Complete" in Spanish after all 33 trapped miners were rescued Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. (AP Photo)
In this screen grab taken from video, rescuer Manuel Gonzalez Pavez, second left, is greeted by the trapped miners, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile.(AP Photo)
In this screen grab taken from video, Florencio Avalos, the first miner to be rescued, center, is greeted after his rescue Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010 at San Jose Mine near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo)
Chilean miner Jorge Galleguillos (C) upon exiting the Fenix capsule after being brought to the surface in the eleventh place, on October 13, 2010 following a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine, near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, Chile. AFP PHOTO/ Rodrigo ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Mario Gomez waves upon exiting the Fenix capsule after being brought to the surface in the ninth place, on October 13, 2010 following a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine, near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, Chile. AFP PHOTO/ MARTIN BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Franklin Lobos embraces his daughter after being brought to the surface from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile on October 13, 2010. Chile. The rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile could be complete 'by the end of the day,' Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said Wednesday about halfway through the dramatic operation. AFP PHOTO / JUAN MABROMATA (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
Loreto Campbell, relative of rescued miner Jorge Galleguillos, reacts while watching on a TV screen his rescue operation at the relatives camp outside the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. Galleguillos was the eleventh of 33 miners who was rescued from the San Jose mine after more than 2 months trapped underground. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Chilean miner Mario Sepulveda (C in beige and green suit) celebrates after being brought to the surface -- the second the be lifted from underground -- on October 13, 2010 after spending a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine, near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, Chile. (Photo by RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Raul Bustos (C) waves as he is transported on a stretcher after being brought to the surface from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile on October 13, 2010. Chile. The rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile could be complete 'by the end of the day,' Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said Wednesday about halfway through the dramatic operation. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Dario Segovia embraces a relative after being brought to the surface from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile on October 13, 2010. Chile. The rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile could be complete 'by the end of the day,' Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said Wednesday about halfway through the dramatic operation. AFP PHOTO/ Rodrigo ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Franklin Lobos embraces a rescue member as he exits the Fenix 2 capsule after being brought to the surface from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile on October 13, 2010. Chile. The rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile could be complete 'by the end of the day,' Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said Wednesday about halfway through the dramatic operation. Lobos is a former football player of the Chilean national team. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Fenix 2 capsule is brought to the surface with the last trapped Chilean miner Luis Urzua from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile on October 13, 2010. Chile. The rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile could be complete 'by the end of the day,' Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said Wednesday about halfway through the dramatic operation. AFP PHOTO / JUAN MABROMATA (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Juan Illanes celebrates after coming out of the Fenix capsule after being brought to the surface on October 13, 2010 following a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine, near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, Chile. Illanes was the third from 33 to be lifted from underground. Chilean President Sebastian Piñera smiles at right. (Photo by MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Ariel Ticona (C) exits the Fenix 2 capsule after being brought to the surface from the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile on October 13, 2010. Chile. The rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile was successfully completed in some 22 and a half hours. AFP PHOTO / JUAN MABROMATA (Photo credit should read JUAN MABROMATA/AFP/Getty Images)
Roxana Gomez, daughter of rescued miner Mario Gomez, cries as she watches on a TV screen the rescue operation of her father at the relatives camp outside the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. Gomez was the ninth of 33 miners who was rescued from the San Jose mine after more than 2 months trapped underground. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Composite picture of the 33 miners trapped in the San Jose mine in Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, Chile. (L to R) Alex Vega, Ariel Ticona, Carlos Barrios, Carlos Bugueno, Carlos Mamani, Claudio Acuna, Claudio Yanez, Daniel Herrera, Dario Segovia, Edison Pena, Esteban Rojas, Florencio Avalos, Franklin Lobos, Jorge Galleguillos, Jose Henriquez, Jose Ojeda, Juan Aguilar, Juan Illanes, Jymmi Sanchez, Luis Urzua, Mario Gomez, Mario Sepulveda, Omar Reygada, Osman Araya, Pablo Rojas, Pedro Cortez, Raul Bustos, Renan Avalos, Richard Villarroel, Samuel Avalos, Victor Segovia, Victor Zamora and Yonni Barrios. Photo by AFP/Getty Images
Residents of Copiapo celebrate after the 33 miners were successfully rescued on October 13, 2010 following a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine, near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, Chile. AFP PHOTO/ Rodrigo ARANGUA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)
People celebrate as they watch on TV the first miner to be rescued, Florencio Avalos, emerging safely to the surface at the San Jose mine in a rescue capsule, in Copiapo, Chile, early Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. Thirty-three miners became trapped when the gold and copper mine collapsed on Aug. 5. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)
People celebrate in Plaza Italia in Santiago after the last of the 33 miners was successfully rescued on October 13, 2010 following a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine, near Copiapo, 800 km north of the Chilean capital. The rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile was successfully completed in some 22 and a half hours. AFP PHOTO/JORGE AMENGUAL (Photo credit should read JORGE AMENGUAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives and friends of 33 freed miners celebrate the end of the successful rescue operation at the camp outside the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile, Wednesday Oct. 13, 2010. The 69-day underground ordeal reached its end Wednesday night after 33 trapped miners were hauled up in a cage through a narrow hole drilled through 2,000 feet of rock. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Alfonso Avalos(R) father of Chilean miner Florencio Avalos and Wilson Avalos brother of Florencio embrace each other after Florencio was brought to the surface on October 13, 2010 following a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine, near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, Chile. Avalos was the first from 33 to be lifted from underground. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
COPIAPO, CHILE - OCTOBER 13: Relatives and friends of the 33 miners trapped on the San Jose Copper-Gold mine for the last two months celebrate after the rescue of the last worker on October 13, 2010 in Copiapo, Chile. All 33 miners who had been trapped in a Chilean mine for more than two months were rescued in a special capsule that brought them safely from 700 meters underground to the Atacama Desert surface. (Photo by Vicente Tapia/LatinContent/Getty Images)
Relatives of miner Renan Avalos celebrate after he was rescued from the San Jose mine, in Copiapo, Chile, on October 13, 2010. The rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile could be complete 'by the end of the day,' Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said Wednesday about halfway through the dramatic operation. AFP PHOTO/Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of trapped miners embrace US drill operator Matt Staffel (L) after the T-130 drill working to rescue the 33 miners finally reached their shelter in the San Jose mine, near Copiapo, Chile on October 9, 2010. After a record two months trapped underground in a collapsed mine, the miners appear to be just days from a miraculous rescue. (Photo by CLAUDIO SANTANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Claudio Yanez (C) - one of the 33 recently rescued from San Jose mine - arrives at the San Jose mine for a mass near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, on October 17, 2010. Almost all the miners have already been discharged from the hospital and must now adjust to their lives in the media glare after 69 days trapped deep in a gold and copper mine. AFP PHOTO/ Caludio SANTANA (Photo credit should read CLAUDIO SANTANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Pablo Rojas (L) - one of the 33 recently rescued from San Jose mine - arrives at the San Jose mine for a mass near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, on October 17, 2010. Almost all the miners have already been discharged from the hospital and must now adjust to their lives in the media glare after 69 days trapped deep in a gold and copper mine. AFP PHOTO/ Caludio SANTANA (Photo credit should read CLAUDIO SANTANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chilean miner Jorge Galleguillos (C) - one of the 33 recently rescued from San Jose mine - arrives at the San Jose mine for a mass near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, on October 17, 2010. Almost all the miners have already been discharged from the hospital and must now adjust to their lives in the media glare after 69 days trapped deep in a gold and copper mine. AFP PHOTO/ Caludio SANTANA (Photo credit should read CLAUDIO SANTANA/AFP/Getty Images)
Chile mine rescue worker Manuel Gonzalez, the first rescuer to reach the trapped miners, waves after a press conference at the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile, Thursday Oct. 14, 2010. The 69-day underground ordeal reached its end Wednesday night after 33 trapped miners were hauled up in a cage through a narrow hole drilled through 2,000 feet (700 meters) of rock. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
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As they exited the cave one-by-one, the miners were greeted by cheers from a crowd that included international media outlets, friends, relatives and Chilean president Sebastian Pinera, as well as millions who were watching the rescue live on television.

Nearly all the miners were in relatively good heath, only wearing dark glasses to protect their eyes from the sun's bright lights.

The men were hailed as heroes, honored with trips around the globe and had parades held in their honor. But five years later, not all is well with The 33.



Hector Tobar, who wrote a book about the miners, told PRI that many people don't realize how much the men suffered. For most, their fame was not followed by fortune.

CNN reports that many of the miners still carry around psychological scars from the ordeal. Some have trouble making ends meet, living off government pension. Urzua hopes that the upcoming film starring Antonio Banderas will put some money in their pockets.

Miner Alex Vega told CNN that he keeps himself occupied, working as a mechanic.



Another miner, Jorge Galleguillos, echoes Vega's thoughts:



No matter the fame or the strife that follows, the story of the miners will forever be remembered as one of strength, will and extreme courage.

Take a look back at the trapped Chilean miners' rescue from 2010 in the video below:
Looking Back at the Trapped Chile Miners' Rescue in 2010


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