|Esteban Rojas, 44, gets on his knees to pray after being rescued.|
As we all know, thirty three men survived the collapse at the San Jose Mine in northern Chile. Starting last night, the tedious rescue began, using a single-man-capsule hoisted from half a mile deep through an opening of 21-inches in diameter.
As they started pulling them out, one by one, it was heartening to see many of them, making the sign of the cross and praying.
Omar Reygadas wrote on his helmet, “God lives” with today’s date.
Mario Sepulveda, who was one of the first to be rescued last night, told a television station, “At no point in time did I doubt that God would get me out of there.”
His wife Lilian told a CNN reporter, “If not for faith, they would have never survived.”
And then there was Mario Gomez, who at 63, is the oldest of the group and suffers health issues that were of concern to the rescuers.
One of the many poignant images of the day, was when Gomez, who has worked in the mines since he was 12 years old and was going to retire in November, got down on his knees after hugging his wife and prayed before hugging all the rescuers, friends and well-wishers present.
Gomez described his rescue as a “miracle from God” and, after praying, was heard saying, “I’ve come back to life.” He wore a rosary around his neck; a reflection of Chile's population, which is considered to be over 90% Roman Catholic.
President Sebastian Pinera, who was there to welcome some of the miners as they were rescued, said, “Today, life defeated death. Hope defeated anxiety.”
Photo: Hugo Infante/Chilean Government/AP Photo)