Chronology of the Chile mine disaster

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 13 2010 03:02 PM | Updated as of Oct 13 2010 11:02 PM

SAN JOSE MINE, Copiapo, Chile - After 69 days underground, the first miner triumphantly emerged from the depths of a Chilean mine on Wednesday to cheers and jubilation from a huge crowd.

Here is a chronology of the disaster and rescue operation to date:

-- August 5: A mine shaft caves-in at a depth of 300 meters (984 feet) in the San Jose mine, 500 miles (800 kilometers) north of Santiago.

-- August 6: Chilean President Sebastian Pinera says his government will do "everything humanly possible" to rescue 33 missing miners.

-- August 7: New cave-ins complicate attempts for a direct rescue through a ventilation duct.

-- August 12: Mining Minister Laurence Golborne says the chances of finding the miners alive are slim.

-- August 22: A drill probe reaches the miners and they attach a note to it saying: "All 33 of us are well inside the shelter." The first video footage shows the miners waving their arms and apparently in good condition.

-- August 23: The trapped miners beg to be rescued soon and receive first supplies via a pipeline.

-- August 25: Chilean officials tell the miners it could be months before they are rescued. They exchange their first letters with their families.

-- August 26: A Chilean judge orders 1.8 million dollars to be frozen from the accounts of the mine in order to pay future compensation claims.

-- August 29: The miners move camp to a drier, cooler site deeper inside the mine. They also speak for the first time with their loved ones by radio-telephone.

-- August 30: Rescuers start drilling a first 30-centimeter (12-inch) pilot hole, aiming for the shelter.

-- September 4: The miners hold a first videoconference with their families.

-- September 18: A second drill reaches the level of the miners, but its 630-meter (2,070-foot) deep hole must now be widened.

-- September 19: A third, more powerful drill starts work on another shaft.

-- September 30: Families of 29 of the 33 workers file suit against their employer, seeking 12 million dollars in damages.

-- October 9: The main rescue shaft breaks through to where the miners are trapped.

-- October 13: Some 69 days after their ordeal began, the first miner, Florencio Avalos, is pulled to the surface in a specially designed steel cage winched up through the rescue shaft.