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14 October 2010 Last updated at 10:38 ET

First rescued Chilean miners to return home on Thursday

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The capsule carrying Luis Urzua emerged to cheers, songs and applause

At least two miners rescued after 69 days trapped underground in northern Chile will leave hospital and go home on Thursday afternoon, officials say.

Of the rest, several are receiving treatment for dental and eye problems, and two have the lung disease silicosis.

However Health Minister Jaime Manalich said the men’s relatively good health was little short of “a miracle”.

The rescue concluded earlier when Luis Urzua was brought to the surface.

Mr Urzua emerged to jubilant cheers at 2155 local time on Wednesday (0055 GMT on Thursday), ending a rescue operation of more than 22 hours.

Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera said his country was “more united and stronger than ever” and would never be the same again.


‘Spoke little’

All of the miners are now in hospital in Copiapo, being treated in two wards that have been darkened to allow the men to adjust to the light.

The BBC’s Rajesh Mirchandani, outside the hospital, says the eldest miner, Mario Gomez, 63, is being treated for pneumonia and the lung disease silicosis. The second man out of the mine, Mario Sepulveda, also has silicosis.

At a news conference on Thursday, the hospital’s medical sub-director Dr Jorge Montes told reporters that the condition of all 33 men was under control.

Luis Urzua arrives at Copiapo hospital Luis Urzua was the last miner to be rescued

Some of them had received dental surgery the previous day and further dental treatment would be provided to others.