The Moment

10|13|10: Chile

  • Share
  • Read Later

The white wheel on the yellow crane told the tale. When it was rotating one way, it was lowering the Phoenix rescue capsule down the 2,050-ft. (625 m) shaft in the Chilean desert to the spot where 33 miners had been trapped since Aug. 5. When it was rotating the other way, it was bringing one of those prisoners to the surface. The first to appear, early Wednesday morning, was Florencio Avalos, 31, a man so shy he volunteered to be the cameraman when he and the others were making videos to send to the surface, so he wouldn't have to appear onscreen. But he was one of the más hábil--the most able--of the group and was thought best able to tolerate the first, risky run up the shaft. So on Tuesday night, he found himself on hundreds of millions of screens around the globe, emerging from the sweltering underworld into the bracing desert air, hugging Chilean President Sebastián Piñera and flashing a thumbs-up. Throughout the night and into the next day, the mine continued giving up its captives--as the wheel turned first one way, then the other, each trip bringing someone's son, husband or father back into the light.