(Edited from AP, Chile) The last of the Chilean miners has been raised from deep beneath the earth. All 33 men have been delivered from the longest underground entrapment in history.

The foreman who held the group together when they were feared lost was the last man out. He was hoisted to safety in a joyous ending to a flawless rescue that captivated the world.

(Edited from AP, Chile) The last of the Chilean miners has been raised from deep beneath the earth. All 33 men have been delivered from the longest underground entrapment in history.

The foreman who held the group together when they were feared lost was the last man out. He was hoisted to safety in a joyous ending to a flawless rescue that captivated the world.

With remarkable speed – and flawless execution – miner after miner climbed into a cramped cage deep beneath the Chilean earth, was hoisted through 2,000 feet of rock and saw precious sunlight Wednesday after the longest underground entrapment in history.

As night fell, 31 of the 33 miners, including the weakest and sickest, had been pulled to freedom, and officials appeared on track to pull up the last miner well before midnight (11 p.m. EDT).

In a meticulously planned operation, they were monitored by video on the way up for any sign of panic. They had oxygen masks, dark glasses to protect their eyes from unfamiliar daylight and sweaters for the jarring climate change, subterranean swelter to the chillier air above.

They emerged looking healthier than many had expected and even clean-shaven, and at least one, Mario Sepulveda, the second to taste freedom, bounded out and thrust a fist upward like a prizefighter.

“I think I had extraordinary luck. I was with God and with the devil. And I reached out for God,” he said as he awaited the air force helicopter ride to a nearby hospital where all the miners were to spend 48 hours under medical observation.

As it traveled down and up, down and up, the rescue capsule was not rotating as much inside the 2,041-foot escape shaft as officials expected, allowing for faster trips, and officials earlier estimated the operation would be completed by sunrise Thursday, if not sooner.

The anxiety that had accompanied the careful final days of preparation broke at 12:11 a.m., with the first rescue – Florencio Avalos, who emerged from the missile-like chamber and smiled broadly after his half-mile journey. He hugged his sobbing 7-year-old son and wife and then President Sebastian Pinera, who has been deeply involved in an effort that had become a matter of national pride.

Avalos was followed an hour later by the most ebullient of the group, Sepulveda, whose shouts were heard even before the capsule peeked above the surface. He hugged his wife and handed out souvenir rocks from the mine to laughing rescuers.

Miners picked small groups of relatives to greet them at the surface. The 21st man pulled out, Johnny Barrios, 50, got a big hug and several kisses from his girlfriend Susana Valenzuela after reaching the surface. His wife, who only learned of Valenzuela’s existence when the two women met at the camp where relatives of the miners kept vigil, stayed home.

No one in recorded history has survived as long trapped underground as the 33 men. For the first 17 days, no one even knew whether they were alive. In the weeks that followed, the world was captivated by their endurance and unity.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich told a news conference after eight miners were rescued that all of them were in good health, and none has required any special medication, not even the diabetic among them.

Chile exploded in joy and relief at the first, breakthrough rescue just after midnight in the coastal Atacama desert.

In the capital, Santiago, a cacophony of car horns sounded. In the nearby regional capital of Copiapo, from which 24 of the miners hail, the mayor canceled school so parents and children could “watch the rescue in the warmth of the home.”

Mining Minister Laurence Golborne, whose management of the crisis has made him a media star in Chile, insisted all risks had been considered. “There is no need to try to start guessing what could go wrong. We have done that job,” Golborne said. “We have hundreds of different contingencies.”

Davitt McAteer, who directed the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, said he gave “very high marks” to the Chileans for creating lowered expectations by saying that it might take until Christmas to rescue the men – and then consistently delivering results ahead of schedule.

“Second, they have had very few technical problems,” he said.

Three rescue capsules were built by Chilean navy engineers, named Phoenix for the mythical bird that rises from ashes and painted in the white, blue and red of the national flag. Only one has been used in the rescue.

The miners’ vital signs were closely monitored throughout the ride. They were given a high-calorie liquid diet donated by NASA, designed to prevent nausea from any rotation of the capsule as it travels through curves in the 28-inch-diameter escape hole.

Engineers inserted steel piping at the top of the shaft, which is angled 11 degrees off vertical before plunging like a waterfall.

Drillers had to curve the shaft to pass through “virgin” rock, narrowly avoiding collapsed areas and underground open spaces in the overexploited mine, which had operated since 1885.

At the regional hospital in Copiapo, two floors were prepared for the miners to be evaluated.

U.S. President Barack Obama praised rescuers, including a team from Center Rock Inc. of Berlin, Pa., that built and managed the piston-driven hammers that pounded open the hole.

Chile has promised that its care of the miners won’t end for six months at least – not until they can be sure that each miner has readjusted.

Psychiatrists and other experts in surviving extreme situations predict their lives will be anything but normal.

Since Aug. 22, when a narrow bore hole broke through to their refuge and the miners stunned the world with a note, scrawled in red ink, disclosing their survival, their families have been exposed in ways they never imagined.

Miners had to describe their physical and mental health in detail with teams of doctors and psychologists. In some cases, when both wives and lovers claimed the same man, everyone involved had to face the consequences.

As trying as their time underground has been, the miners now face challenges so bewildering that no amount of coaching can fully prepare them. Rejoining a world intensely curious about their ordeal, they have been invited to presidential palaces, take all-expenses-paid vacations and appear on countless TV shows.

Book and movie deals are pending, along with job offers. Previously unimaginable riches await a simple signature for those with savvy.

Sepulveda’s performance exiting from the shaft appeared to confirm what many Chileans thought when they saw his engaging performances in videos sent up from below – that he could have a future as a TV personality.

But he tried to quash the idea as he spoke to viewers of Chile’s state television channel while sitting with his wife and children shortly after his rescue.

“The only thing I’ll ask of you is that you don’t treat me as an artist or a journalist, but as a miner,” he said. “I was born a miner and I’ll die a miner.”

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