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As they emerge: How each man spent his first moments above ground

By the CNN Wire Staff

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Freed after 69 days underground
  • Florencio Avalos, the first rescued miner, beamed and hugged everyone around him
  • Mario Sepulveda passed out rocks, cracked jokes
  • Collection of handheld Bolivian flags greeted Carlos Mamani

(CNN) -- Isolated in a dark, underground world for more than two months, the first seven miners to emerge from the San Jose mine savored the fresh air amid eruptions of applause. Here's how each man spent his first moments above ground:

• The first miner to reach the surface, Florencio Avalos, beamed and hugged everyone around him as he walked on the earth's surface for the first time in 69 days. He took a few moments to embrace his weeping family before he was taken away for medical evaluation amid cheers.

• As the second miner, Mario Sepulveda, exited the rescue hole, he reached into a large yellow bag and handed out what appeared to be rocks to officials and rescue workers. Sepulveda cracked jokes in his first moments above ground and led the crowd in a cheer for Chile. As the 40-year-old was hauled away on a stretcher for his medical evaluation, he asked his wife, "How's the dog?"

• Juan Illanes, an electrical mechanic retired from the Chilean military, beamed from behind his dark sunglasses when he became the third miner to be rescued. Like the other rescued miners, Illanes wore eye protection to protect against lighting contrasts. His letters to his wife have displayed humor and optimism.

Video: Elation, tears as first miners surface
Video: Best out-of-the-mine moments

• A collection of small, handheld Bolivian flags amid a sea of Chilean flags greeted Carlos Mamani, the lone Bolivian miner and the fourth to reach the earth's surface. Mamani knelt on the ground and pointed to an image resembling the Chilean flag on his t-shirt, acknowledging the cheering crowd. The rookie miner and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera embraced before Mamani was taken away for medical evaluation.

• The youngest miner, 19-year-old Jimmy Sanchez, was the fifth miner extracted. Sanchez, who worked as an environmental assistant, does not like confined spaces and has said he misses his mother's cooking. He is the father of an infant girl.

• Osman Araya fell into the arms of his wife and kissed her repeatedly as he emerged from the mine. The sixth miner rescued thrust his fists into the air with thumbs up as he was wheeled away on a stretcher for a medical evaluation.

• Seconds after stepping out of the rescue capsule, the seventh miner, Jose Ojeda, unfurled a large Chilean flag in front of the crowd. The widower suffers from diabetes and served as secretary for the trapped miners.