Return to Transcripts main page

ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES

Mine Rescue Underway

Aired October 12, 2010 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And he's clearly have been selected because he is supposed to be in good shape. You just saw a moment ago, family members of Florencio Avalos being brought to the site. Three family members we're told of each of these miners will be allowed to go and actually greet them and spend some time with them, and then each of these miners is going to be brought for medical treatment, for medical observation. But there are family members of the miner who was being brought up as we speak.

We are just now past the top of the hour. If you are just joining us, we are bringing you history tonight from Chile, where one of 33 trapped miners, Florencio Avalos, we believe is now inside this rescue pod heading above ground; these images moments just ago taken as the pod actually left the mine. This was the first contact these miners have had, you can see they broke out in applause.

And clearly people all above the ground broke out in applause as well. The rescue pod departing -- departing on its ascent, the first ascent of 33 ascents bringing out each of these miners. We are of course bringing this to you live from up above and down below.

Gary Tuchman is on the scene, so is Karl Penhaul. We have doctors and mining experts all watching this as well; a truly remarkable evening, an exciting night. Gary -- Dr. Manning, for -- once this miner gets on-site, gets up on to the surface and is able to interact with their family, what sort of medical tests are they going to be undergoing over the next several days?

DR. KIM MANNING, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Right, so after they've done the initial survey and they have made sure that the airway and breathing and circulation are intact, the next thing they'll be doing is doing really just standard testing in terms of body chemistries, things like the sodium level, potassium level.

Of course we talked about kidney function a little bit earlier. We'd also like to look at the liver function. Cardiac examinations and cardiac laboratory values would be helpful; also EKG would be helpful particularly in those individuals who have underlying medical problems.

But a huge, huge thing is going to be a psychiatric evaluation. These are remarkable individuals who have survived the unthinkable. So we know that we already are dealing with an entire different group of people, in terms of their ability to survive. But even if some of them survived, or are able to get past those physical complications, it's going to be very difficult to get past those psychiatric things, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, and of course, the depression that comes with the tremendous lifestyle change that they'll be facing.

COOPER: They not only have been away from their families for this amount of time, they're emerging as heroes in Chile, no doubt they are going to be descended on by -- by local reporters, by people who want to talk to them and get their stories, that's going to have impact, obviously.

There you see family members waiting, waiting for this man. It has been seven minutes now, since -- since Florencio Avalos departed from -- from the mine. We believe it could be anywhere from -- from 12 to 16 to 17 minutes for him to get up here, maybe as little as ten, because it took about ten for the rescuer, Manuel Gonzalez, to go down.

Karl Penhaul is also now standing by at Camp Hope where the miners' families have been keeping a vigil. Karl, we're seeing at least I can tell -- at least two family members, maybe there's a third, of this -- this first miner. They are clearly -- they have been brought in anticipation of him coming.

Karl, do you have a sense of how far away the -- the Phoenix capsule is?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN VIDEO CORRESPONDENT: I believe that this is -- yes, I believe that the capsule is now no more than two, two and a half minutes away, judging by the time that the rescuer took to get down, this capsule is really moving quite fast, it seems to be going quite smoothly.

Technically speaking, the technicians said it would take longer for the capsule to get down to the mine than it would to extract it from the mine, back to the surface. We now have on this current ascent Florencio Avalos stepped into the Phoenix II Capsule eight minutes and 31, 32, 33 seconds ago now.

So I would expect to see Phoenix II rising to the surface, bringing the first miner back to life in just a minute and a half, maybe two minutes from now. And if you look at this picture behind us, family members, well-wishers, they are just waiting here on tenterhooks. This is the moment they have been waiting 69 days for.

COOPER: Yes.

PENHAUL: You can see also at the extraction point, you can see President Sebastian Pinera and his wife. They have come out of a prefabricated hut. They are standing alongside the extraction hole, that would seem to suggest that this first extraction is just seconds away.

There goes the -- there goes the siren, there goes the siren. That means miner on the surface, Anderson -- miner on the surface. A light is flashing, an ambulance siren is blaring.

This is the signal to tell us that Florencio Avalos is just feet away from the surface. We will see him emerging --

COOPER: Yes.

PENHAUL: -- we will see the Phoenix II rising in just a few seconds. I'll keep quiet. We want to see this moment.

We're being told now, Anderson that that's a false alarm, that that siren that was going off prematurely.

COOPER: Yes, ok.

PENHAUL: It is a false alarm, that there is still a few feet to go. But the Phoenix II is clearly still rising.

COOPER: Right.

PENHAUL: But that's the signal that we're going to hear when it comes up to the surface. We're going to hear that ambulance-type siren. We're going to see a light flashing. We can see some steam rising there. Don't worry, that's just steam that's coming up because there's are a temperature differential. It's a lot hotter down underneath the earth than it is up here in the freezing --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: No doubt.

PENHAUL: But just a few seconds possibly right now from the Phoenix II coming back to the surface.

COOPER: Thirty two miners down below, no doubt watching this as anxiously as all of us here on the surface.

One of the men, the youngest miner who's is still down below, Jimmy Sanchez, during the past 68 days had written to his family, saying that there weren't 33 miners down there. He said there are actually 34 of us because God has never left us down here.

Certainly their faith is strong after being down there for 68 days. And now the -- the long road to freedom is about to be complete for the first miner, Florencio Avalos.

You see the steam rising from the hole, the warm temperature down below, it's freezing -- it's very cold up top. The family of this -- of this one miner, this first miner, the healthiest of the miners, the smile in anticipation as they wait, as we wait and watch.

And there on the left-hand side of your screen in the upper corner, the people in Copiapo, Chile, the nearby town, filled the town square. And on the lower left hand side of your screen, family members, relatives, people in Camp Hope, much closer to the actual mine. They are silent, watching the wheel turning.

As soon as that wheel stops, they will know. They are too far away to actually see the capsule, but they will see that wheel, and they will see it stop, and they will know that the first of their 33 miners is home.

Three different drills were working to -- to get to these miners, each one racing the other. It was the critical Plan B drill which ultimately got there; American technicians actually operating that drill, one of whom was brought in from Afghanistan. We'll talk to them a little bit later on in this hour.

They didn't actually stick around to witness it. They wanted to go back to Santiago and watch it on TV like everybody else. They wanted this moment to be for the Chilean people, the family members, the friends, the colleagues and all the mine officials who have been there working around the clock.

And as Karl indicated, when the -- when the capsule -- when the Phoenix Capsule is close to the surface, a siren will sound; that will happen every time each of the 33 miners is brought up, letting people far and wide know that one of their miners has gotten home.

It has been nearly 14 minutes since Florencio Avalos first left -- left the mine. You can just believe we've been given about two minutes before this capsule reaches the surface based on radio traffic. Believed to be either from the miner or from -- from people on the ground to either the miner or to Manuel Gonzalez, who is the rescuer, who is still down below in the mine.

The final few moments are probably the safest for -- for the miner. The upper part of this -- of this shaft has been secured with metal, has been reinforced with -- with steel. The lower parts of it were not. They are now about to commence the ascent, we're told.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Move back.

COOPER: It's been 15 minutes so far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are moving, we're moving up until we've reached the surface.

COOPER: You get a sense of just how this is important, that this is the Chilean government, the fact that they are -- provided a translator and they are shooting this from all different angles, and providing this -- and here we are.

Never has a man been underground for so long and gotten out alive. The family of Florencio Avalos are crying, crying with joy, relief for their loved one.

Sixty-eight days underground, 32 miners still down below. The first man is here. Wearing glasses, because the difference in light, concern about the miners' ability for their eyes to adjust. They've been in complete blackness for the most part and some head lamps, with small LED head lamps for 68 days.

Each of the miners will be wearing these glasses as they come up. And there's the president of Chile greeting Florencio Avalos. These miners were only be allowed a short period of time with up to three family members, and then they're going to be brought in to a nearby medical tent for evaluation. And then we're told helicoptered to a nearby facility where they'll get more -- for more intensive evaluation, the psychological and physical.

This is obviously a point of huge national pride, the early anger at the mine owners. The thumbs up from Florencio Avalos. And now attention turns to the other miners down below.

Dr. Nick Kanas is a psychiatrist and professor at the University of California in San Francisco, he joins us now.

It seems obviously for the top priority for these guys is going to be spending their time with their families, but -- buy you say that experience can also bring its own kind of stress.

DR. NICK KANAS, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I think the stress is figuring out a way to reunite with some degree of privacy. The -- the vision I just saw is wonderful, and of course, they are noting the family members reuniting with the miners is just really very wonderful.

But I think the problem is now what happens, will they be separated? Will they have a chance to really get together and reintegrate back? It can be certainly very stressful if -- if the miners are whisked away and suddenly become part of the media explosion.

So I think the privacy and a chance to reintegrate is critical right now for the miners.

COOPER: I mean, I've got to say, I've never seen a -- a rescue like this produced as much from a television standpoint by Chilean authorities. I mean, this is not a -- this is not television companies doing this, this is the Chilean government producing this every step of the way, even doctors opening up the doors as he's being brought in because they're aware the cameras are there.

It's -- it's pretty remarkable. In terms of re-adjustment, what kind of problems do you think they -- they may encounter in not only the -- the hours but most importantly you know weeks and/or months ahead?

KANAS: Well, I think the big problem is on that some of our astronauts face as well, astronauts whom I study in my research. Getting back from a mission that has a lot of fame and glory attached, for people who aren't used to it, can be very stressful. And I think it all depends on how things are handled.

Some people, for example, Buzz Aldrin, when he came back from the moon, wrote very vividly in his books about how difficult the readjustment was for his family and for himself. There was alcoholism involved. It's tough to be adjusting to fame and glory when it's not part of your normal routine.

So I think the key for the miners is that they have some private time to normalize their lives before they go on tours and get interviewed a lot, and have -- have really the media and the politicians come at them. It's important to pace things.

COOPER: Yes. Stand by, doctor.

Karl Penhaul is standing by at Camp Hope. It looks like, now, Karl, another rescuer, Roberto Rios Seguel (ph) is about to descend into this mine. There is already one rescuer still down there, Manuel Gonzalez. So it looks like at each point that they bring up one miner they're going to send at least for the initial few, another rescuer down.

KARL: That does seem to be the case. That is in fact what rescue officials (INAUDIBLE) in the course of the afternoon, that they descend the initial phase, one rescuer down and then bring one miner up.

But I must tell you that the family members here at Camp Hope are still celebrating, I would say, celebrating -- of course they're celebrating, but there were tears. Both the men and women burst into tears, they burst in the parts of the national anthem, they burst into tears as well.

There were hugs going around and then look at the images that are coming from the (INAUDIBLE) president himself, hug (INAUDIBLE) the first miner coming out of that hole. But we also saw one Andre Sougarrete he's one of the chief rescue coordinators, also saw the mine even as the launch go forth two men that have stood stoically by through this rescue effort, I will tell you that on many occasions there appeared solely and focus on their jobs.

But tonight we saw them cry. We saw them cry as Florencio Avalos stepped out of the Phoenix II Capsule. This is a combination of 69 days of searching, of rescuing, and of helping 33 miners half a mile underground fight against life and death -- Anderson.

COOPER: Kimberly Manning is also joining us, a doctor from Emory University. I mean, the fact that Florencio Avalos was able to stand, greet his family, that's certainly a good indication of his health but he was put on a gurney pretty quickly and brought to a field hospital immediately. What can they do there on site?

MANNING: Well, first they're going to start by doing a full physical, a head to toe examination. And that really is where everything is going to start. And once they get a good assessment of where his vital signs are, it will probably start by having them place IVs for intravenous fluid rehydration, rapidly to get a basic metabolic panel as we mentioned before to really see how his electrolytes are doing.

We can assume that there's some degree of dehydration already even though the miners were receiving water and fluids down into the shaft -- down into mine. We also know that with the disorientation and with just the elements that they were in, it would be very difficult to get them proper amount of value (ph) that you need.

COOPER: We're watching Robert Rios Seguel the second rescuer about to be lowered into this mine. We -- we expect his journey to take just about ten minutes or so. We expect to also get -- continue to get live pictures from down below, once he actually arrives.

It looks like now they're rechecking something. They just want to make sure everything and all the straps, everything is in order. They want to make sure they can also maintain communication with him. And now he's stepping out, clearly some more work has to be done.

Let's go back and show the moments ago that we saw for the first time, the first miner emerging from the ground -- just truly remarkable moment.

It seemed that maybe his son or a little brother, clearly overwhelmed by it all.

Here's the second rescuer again, back in the capsule now; they seem to have fixed whatever the problem was. They're giving some final instructions and they'll be sending him down. We saw one of the -- the colleagues of the first rescuer, Manuel Gonzalez, telling Mr. Gonzalez before he went down, just imagine you're at the beach, as he was being lowered down. Not an easy thing to do, with all the pressure and the eyes of the world watching.

Karl Penhaul is watching all this along with us. Karl, they have had -- the miners have had their own sort of -- not really a medical personnel, but they have -- a miner who had some minor medical training. And he was tasked -- one of the jobs he had was to interview each of the miners every single day and send up information about what they were eating, about their spirits, all their medical condition as best he could.

So there has been one miner at least whose sort have been monitor -- whose job was to monitor the -- the physical and mental health of each of the -- the -- his colleagues, correct?

PENHAUL: Yes, absolutely. You're talking there about Johnny Barrios. He is a trained paramedic because that is part of his training as a miner. Incidentally his other main specialty within the mine was explosives expert. He is the man with the dynamite but he is also the man who's been keeping a medical eye on these 33 miners.

He is the one that after 17 days -- because remember, of course, that these miners were lost -- they lost all contact with the outside world for 17 days. Nobody on the surface knew that they had actually survived the mine cave-in. But when they made that first bore hole half a mile down into the mine shaft, they are very quickly on the surface, the medics and the psychologists got together and they decided that that Johnny Barrios was their man.

And he has become what the other miners have jokingly called "Dr. House", after the U.S. TV series. They've seen that on some of the videos that the miners have send from the surface by passing the video around and that and referring to Johnny Barrios as "Dr. House".

But it is him who has been carrying out daily or even twice daily checks of the vital signs of the miners. He is also the man who has been in charge of the pace maker -- the pace maker to make sure each miner was slim enough to fit into this rescue capsule, because we've been saying it's just 21 and a half inches in diameter.

It was also Johnny Barrios who has been carrying out the blood test and (INAUDIBLE) for the miners. Also make sure that they're in top physical condition and yes, of course, keeping the miners in good mental health. It also has been one of the main focuses of the rescue teams on the surface over the last two and some months, as Johnny Barrios has been playing a vital role in that operation -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. It's good to -- I think Dennis O'Dell is still standing by with the United Mine Workers of America. Dennis, as we watch the -- the second rescuer, Roberto Rios Seguel about to be lowered.

DENNIS O'DELL, UNITED MINE WORKERS: Yes.

COOPER: How risky is this for -- for a rescue worker?

O'DELL: Going underground making a trip --

COOPER: I'm sorry, Dennis didn't hear -- we have your audio now. I'm sorry. Go ahead Dennis.

O'DELL: Ok. Yes, there as some risk involved. I mean, these guys are trained professionals in what they do, and so, therefore, you know, they're going to take extra safety precautions in their approach, but there's always, like we talked -- talked about before, a risk.

You know, I was sitting here watching this whole thing unfold, Anderson I'm thinking back about you know, when you and I first met at Sago, and then we went through that event and we saw what happened at (INAUDIBLE) and then we saw what happened at Crandall Canyon and then again at Upper Big Branch and now we're watching this unfold.

You know, hopefully operators and regulators will wake up and they'll make some changes to make these conditions safer for miners so that we can learn and not have to go through these events again. That's the one thing that I hope that America and the rest of the country will wake up and -- and give miners what they justly deserve as far as a safe workplace. Because not only are these miners at risk, but the point that you just made, you're also putting rescuers at risk --

COOPER: Yes.

O'DELL: -- as well to try to save these guys.

But you know, thank God we have guys that will step up to the plate to do this, Anderson.

COOPER: I want to talk to you more about that. I just want to go and listen to what they are talking -- it looks like they are checking the door. I'm not sure if we have a way to translate on this. Let's -- let's see if we can listen in.

They had a problem with the door previously before the first rescuer went down, they thought they'd fixed it, looks like it's being lowered again. Whatever the problem was, it's apparently not serious enough to stop the second rescue operation that's going underway.

Again, I'm joined by Dennis O'Dell from United Mine Workers. Because you know, Dennis, I think back -- I've been thinking a lot tonight about -- about the Sago Mine disaster and how authorities there, mine officials there, I mean, it's a complete opposite of what we're seeing tonight in terms of transparency and visibility.

I mean, clearly authorities here want people to see what's going on. Back in Sago, the only people who had the information about what really was going on, they held on to that information. And even when word was leaking out, and the wrong word was leaking out and families were rejoicing that their loved ones that they thought their loved ones were alive, and the mining company knew that information, you know -- at the very least was not entirely accurate, rather than allowing transparency they -- they held on to that information for hours and allowed false information to spread out.

This clearly is an operation where transparency, we're seeing it at all different levels.

O'DELL: Yes, and I think that's a lesson learned from Sago. If you recall, when that whole event unfolded, you know, the emotions that everybody went through. I mean, you and I stood side by side and watched that whole thing unfold. We thought everybody was alive and then found out through miscommunications that that wasn't true.

So you went from this very high, good feeling, like we see here tonight, to this gut-wrenching sickness and pain to find out that all the miners, with the exception of one, had actually died.

So I think that's something that the entire mining industry throughout the entire world has learned, that it's better, you know, to have people know exactly what's going on, and try not to hide the information and to be open and honest with everybody as to what's going on. And I think that's shared information, that -- that lesson that we learned at Sago has paid off in this instance here.

COOPER: And here we see again, now underground images of the miners, 32 miners now, awaiting this -- this -- the -- the rescue capsule to come and the second rescuer to arrive. We're going to take a quick break. It takes about ten minutes or so for this rescue capsule to go down.

So you're not to miss anything, we're going to take a quick break. We'll be back in just a few minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COOPER: We are back with just remarkable breaking coverage from the historic mine rescue in Chile. This happened just a few minutes ago, the first of the 33 miners being brought out of the ground alive.

Florencio Avalos is his name. His family was there to greet him, as were as his colleagues, the president of Chile and all those who had been working so long and so hard to bring these men out alive. No one has ever survived underground so long in a mine and gotten out alive.

A remarkable night, we hope he is the first of 33 men to be brought out alive. Two rescuers are now underground, one still on his way to the mine. The first rescuer is already down in the mine.

The mine, of course, is on a -- is at the end of a half-mile-long escape shaft, the hole that's barely wider than two feet across. A massive drill punched through tons of rock to carve this out.

Jeff Hart was one of the lead drillers for the rescue operation --

(CROSSTALK)

COOPER: He joins us now. Hey Jeff, can you hear me? It's Anderson.

JEFF HART, LEAD DRILLER: Yes, I can hear you. Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Jeff, you're in Santiago tonight. Just congratulations. What was it like for to you see this first man being brought out alive after you have been working on this and your colleagues around the clock to make sure this happens?

HART: You know, it's extremely exciting for us. I -- kind of got away from it, Matt, Jorge and I are all here in a hotel room locked up, kind of watching this as it came, and it's a very emotional moment for us. We worked real long and hard on that and to actually see that capsule come through the first time, through the hole that we drilled, is just unbelievable.

COOPER: I would have expected you to be like soaked in champagne by now. It looks pretty mellow in your hotel room.

HART: You know, it's a very sobering, sobering scenario. There's still 32 guys down there, and to think we had a part in this is extremely sobering. So it is kind of somber and we're all kind of in disbelief that we're part of this.

COOPER: Well, you -- I mean you had more than a part and your colleagues did as well, because you guys were working around the clock. There were three different drills, three different -- Plan A, B and C. You were plan B. You actually started later, but you broke through first.

I heard you say that -- I read that you said this was the most difficult drilling project you've worked on, and you just came back from Afghanistan where you were helping American forces drill wells. Why was this one so tough?

HART: You know, the geology and the strata here is very difficult to drill. It's very abrasive, extremely hard. It's got very broken parts in it and so it just -- it eats up bits. We had a hard time with the angle, keeping the bushings in the bits. And we just had issues, but together as a team everybody just kind of came together and we made this thing work. And it's an awesome feeling.

COOPER: And, you know, we think we live in this age of hugely high technology and we certainly do and these drills are amazing, but you actually have to stand on your feet while you're drilling. I read because you actually kind of sensed things through your feet. Tell me about that.

HART: Absolutely. If you're a good driller, you're always standing on your feet, kind of feeling what's going on. And you can tell a lot by your gauges, but the real feel is what the drill's doing. So you're noticing whether it's good torque or bad torque. So you know whether it's time to pull a bit, or whether it's just something else in the hole that's holding you up.

COOPER: And were you manning the drill when it actually broke through? When it actually reached the miners?

HART: Yes, sir, I was.

COOPER: What was that feeling like? I mean, did you actually -- could you tell that it had gotten that close?

HART: You know, we did. We stopped 2 1/2 meters shy, just so we could make sure the miners could actually go down and measure to make sure our depths were correct. They did over the phone tell us it is 2 1/2 meters, so drilling the last couple of meters is obviously nerve- wracking. We could still have a failure at that point and lose the hole. So until you're actually in the mine, it's not over.

So, yes, we had a very nerve wracking couple of meters there and then in the last six inches we had something around the rig pop. Everybody's asked us about that. We still today don't know what that was.

COOPER: I heard you described it you thought your heart almost stopped.

HART: You know, well, I tell you, that's exactly what it was because that was what we didn't want to hear is something like that, because we still hasn't punched through into the mine, and so it was definitely a heart stopper. We're thinking, man, something goes wrong in the last minute.

But it ended up -- we watched the video that the miners had for us come through into the mine and everything worked out well.

COOPER: Well, I know you wanted to kind of leave this moment to the folks who were there, and you left the scene. I know everyone there was congratulating you, was hugging you. You are a hero not only to the people there, but to everyone around the world who has been watching, you and your colleagues.

Jeff Hart, I appreciate what you did tonight in Chile over the last several weeks and also in Afghanistan and all your work. Thank you, sir.

HART: Absolutely. I appreciate that. Thank you much, Anderson.

COOPER: All right. You take care. Jeff Hart.

Incredible scene unfolding tonight before our eyes tonight in Chile; Gary Tuchman has the good fortune to watch it all up close for us live.

Gary, how many minutes do we think it's been now while the second rescuer is on his way down? We can see the wheel right now, it's still turning, so it looks like he's still going down, but he's got to be pretty close.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think he'll be down there at any moment now and the second miner will be on his way up. The first miner took, Anderson, about 15 minutes precisely we were told by the experts. It would take 16 to 17 so that beat the estimate.

But I'll tell you the significance of the first man, Mr. Avalos -- the miner coming up. Not only was it an amazing moment for human kind literally to watch that man come up, the first man to survive that long, among his 33 colleagues, but it's significant because of the reason that man was on the capsule. They wanted the healthiest physically, the healthiest mentally, the healthiest emotionally, the first few people to go up because they didn't know what this capsule this would do exactly with a human being inside of it.

They figured it would work, but that capsule had never done this with a human being coming up in the mine, 2300 feet below and making its way to the top. And it worked. Now there's no reason to expect it won't work for the next 32 men.

COOPER: And again, we are very close to, we believe, watching the capsule emerge from its long descent down. Do we know who's coming up next? Gary, do we know who's coming up next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to call back.

COOPER: Gary, do we know who's coming up next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gary was disconnected.

COOPER: We've got a disconnection from Gary. Let's go to Karl Penhaul.

Karl, who is the second miner who's going to be brought up? Do we know? Karl it's Anderson. Can you hear me?

Ok, we have a problem with that as well. We'll try to establish -- obviously this is live television and there's a lot going on, a lot of moving pieces.

Dennis O'Dell from United Mine Workers is standing by. Dennis, in terms of the operation -- I mean now it's looking like it takes about ten minutes or so to get down; maybe 15 minutes to get down. I think it's been about 12 minutes now for the second rescue worker. Each man seems pretty prepared by the time the capsule gets there. And if it takes about 16 or so minutes to come back up, we're looking at -- I mean, at the most about 30 minutes per each trip, per miner. So there's no doubt this is going to last through into the morning, we're still going to be seeing people coming up.

DENNIS O'DELL, UNITED MINE WORKERS: Yes, absolutely. It's going to take that, just because of the number of miners that we have. So it's going to be a long night for everybody. But hopefully, like you said, it looks like it's going to be a very successful night for everybody, and morning as well.

COOPER: Yes. No doubt about it.

Dr. Kim Manning is also with us from Emory University. Dr. Manning, as night turns into day, that also brings with it, you know, obviously we saw the first miner wearing those glasses because they were concerned about the differential in light. Not as big as problem at night time, but during the day you've certainly got miners who have been in pitch-black for 68 days with only a few LED lights, with only the lights on their helmets, suddenly emerging into the bright sunlight.

DR. KIM MANNING, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Definitely. Well, there's certainly the risk of UV light injury. And so wearing those glasses is very important, but also just being in the dark itself is also a major issue as well.

COOPER: Yes. It's amazing, I've been reading up on how lack of light can affect a person long-term, someone described it as sort of having constant jet lag for 68-plus days, but NASA had advised them early on that to try to make sort a light area as well as a dark area inside the cave, they weren't really able to do that, to make it fully light, but they had an area where there were LED lights and they had their lamp lights. Why is that so important, to try to -- why is that so important?

MANNING: Well, Anderson, what this tries to mimic is the body's circadian rhythm. That is a physiologic process that sets all the things the body does, based upon periods of light and periods of dark. And so during light periods, your muscles are the most agile, you're the most alert during those periods of time. Then your body tends to relax during the periods of darkness.

So take away light, it upsets the whole physiologic process of the body. So bringing that light down there was really huge, but also being in darkness can lead to things like Vitamin D deficiency. Most of the Vitamin D that we get is not through diet but in fact comes from a reaction that takes place when you get into sunlight. So Vitamin D deficiency is also a huge issue.

COOPER: And Gary Tuchman joins us again from the scene. Gary, one of the things that they really tried to get these miners to adhere to over the last 68 days was a very rigid schedule. In part because of that very reasonable reason, for not having light, they wanted to make sure the miners stayed busy and their bodies got used to having some sort of routine.

And I'm slowing down because I'm watching this wheel turning and it's -- it looks like it's slowing, so I'm -- any moment now we could be getting that live picture from down below. It looks like frankly the wheel has stopped, and in fact, there it is.

Let's watch this live. Let's listen as we hear the microphones underneath the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am -- I'm looking at the cage. We're looking at the images of the cage.

COOPER: This is radio communication from down below. They send to people up above ground who are watching on their computer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has arrived. Perfect. Perfect. Let me know when it lands. Lower. Lower. Please confirm. Lower. A little bit lower. Little bit lower. There. There. Did it land ok? Yes. Perfect. Please stay on the line.

COOPER: There you see Manuel Gonzalez, the first rescuer there, going to make sure that the phoenix capsule -- you hear the men in the mine clapping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very good.

The cage is in the air. They're going to lower it a little bit more. They're going to lower the cage a little bit. Lower. We're requesting instructions.

Please lower the cage. A little bit, it's still in the air.

COOPER: Again, you're hearing radio communication from Manuel Gonzalez, one of the first rescuers inside the mine, to mine officials above ground who are watching it on their computer. And our image is being taken off their computer.

So you're hearing the sound of Manuel Gonzalez below, as well as the mine officials who are overseeing the operation above ground. So you're hearing two different -- sets of voices.

Looks like the second rescuer in the foreground is addressing some of the miners and now bringing over one of the miners.

You can see one of the miners in green; that must be the next man who is set to go. The green are the outfits that the miners wear before they're put in the capsule. You see most of the miners are still without their shirts as they have been for some 68 days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Manuel, checking the door, making sure everything is correct, that the lock is correct.

COOPER: The name of the second miner is Mario Sepulveda. He's the second man who's been selected; also said to be in relatively good shape. That's why he's been selected as second to go. He, in fact, was the spokesperson or the video narrator of many of the videos that we have seen over these last 68 days. He appeared on camera. He narrated a lot of the videos; that's (INAUDIBLE) of course.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please check the door.

COOPER: Florencio Avalos, he was actually the cameraman for most of those videos.

Obviously there's been some concern about the door, both before this whole operation began, and clearly now. They're still discussing the door. Looks like one of the miners, Mario Sepulveda, is fully dressed; looks like he's kind of awaiting instructions.

The second rescuer Roberto Rios Seguel seems to be working on some of his equipment. You see Roberto with his back toward the camera. Mario Sepulveda is facing the camera there in green. He's just put on a red helmet.

Each of these miners as they're brought up, if you haven't been following our coverage, each one has an oxygen -- a bottle of oxygen. They also have communication devices. Mario there seems to be laughing and hugging one of the other miners.

Incredible pictures -- this is happening some 2,000 feet below the surface of the earth in an incredibly remote region of Chile and you are watching it live.

As I was saying, each miner has access to oxygen on the way up. There's also, I'm told, a video camera trained on the face of the miners so that the folks above ground can watch the miner as they talk to him, assess his condition, make sure there's no panic. That was a concern for some of these miners they might panic on the way up, even though they're used to being in very tight, claustrophobic conditions.

No one has ever been in this condition before, having been underground for so long and survived to be brought out, so they didn't know what to expect. There's also communication devices, they can actually talk to the miner as they're bringing the miner up.

Dennis O'Dell is watching this along with us; he's from the United Mine Workers. Dennis, you know, one kind of starts to think this is not unusual to see these images, but this is history happening. We have never -- we've never seen people underground this long who have survived, and we've certainly never seen it all broadcast live, a rescue like this.

O'DELL: That's correct, Anderson.

I mean I'm sitting here watching this whole thing just like millions of people are, and in total amazement. Just to watch the reaction of the miners themselves, you know, trying to look at their body language, try to look at the expressions on their face, the way they're hugging each other. You know, that family, that camaraderie that they have. It's a joyous occasion, I think, for everybody.

And you're right. This is history in the making. This is something that nobody has ever seen. This is something that's going to benefit the whole mining community throughout the world, too. Because one of the things that we've always been curious about is how the human body would last in a confined space for long periods of time, because as you know, one of the regulations that passed as a result of Sago was in the United States now we have shelters and chambers put in place.

And we really weren't sure how miners would react being in confined spaces, in the event that they would have to get in those areas and barricade themselves. And I think we're going to be able to learn a little bit from this experience, so we can apply it here in the United States with the use of shelters and chambers that we have now in place.

Hopefully we'll never have to use them. But in the event we do have to use them, I think that we can learn from this experience for sure.

COOPER: Yes. Let's hope so, certainly.

Let's listen to the radio traffic now, as Mario Sepulveda prepares to be the second miner brought to the surface.

Trying to interrupt as little as possible; I just think these images are so incredible to witness this as it's happening. I want you to experience it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please stay with me and inform me what's going on.

They're giving the final instructions. They're checking the door again. Making -- checking the door. Making sure he's breathing correctly, very relaxed. This is -- very relaxed. It's very calm. Stay very calm.

We're finishing the check -- the last check.

COOPER: The voice of Manuel Gonzalez, looks like we've lost that underground image, but you're hearing the voice of Manuel Gonzalez, the first rescuer. He'll be the one to give the word that it's a go to start bringing up Mario Sepulveda.

Dennis O'Dell watching along with us. Dennis, that steam rising from the hole, that's entirely natural. That's just because of the temperature differential, correct?

O'DELL: Yes, that's all that is, because it's so much hotter underground than it is -- yes.

COOPER: You're watching the lower left-hand side of your screen, people in the nearby town of Copiapo watching just silently, waiting for that capsule to leave the underground chamber. They will no doubt, as they have before, erupt in applause when that happens. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok, whenever you're ready.

COOPER: See the second rescuer, Roberto Rios Seguel on the right of your screen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're beginning the ascent.

COOPER: And it has begun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please ask them to clear, clear the camera.

COOPER: And Mario Sepulveda is now on his way to freedom. It took 16 minutes for Florencio Avalos to make it. We'll be following this all the way through. Karl Penhaul is on the ground watching. Karl no doubt again, the crowd around you watching this as intently as all of us are -- probably more so.

PENHAUL: Yes, absolutely. I mean, they're here at Camp Hope, there are a mixture of areas where family members are. They're all glued to TV screens to see those amazing live pictures of miners coming up. And we saw Roberto Rios is the second rescue expert down there. In fact he is a Navy --

COOPER: Having trouble hearing Karl Penhaul, so we're just going to cut out from what he's saying. There's just too much background noise for that.

Dennis O'Dell, again, I'm sorry. Let me just go back to you. The length of this operation, I mean, are you surprised at how quickly they were able to get through to these miners? There had been talk that, you know, this might go into December before they were able to reach the mine.

O'DELL: You know, Anderson, when they first started talking about how long this rescue may take, I was -- I was kind of taken aback by the length of the period of time they said the rescue was -- you know, they were going to say clear into December. And that was kind of troubling to me because it seemed like a longer period of time than what I thought it should have taken.

I'm actually -- I believe that they're more in time with what I thought they should be as far as the rescue goes. I don't know if they were just saying that it may take longer just to be --

COOPER: Right.

O'DELL: You know --

COOPER: I think they were covering their bases --

(CROSSTALK)

O'DELL: -- if something would happen.

COOPER: Yes. I think they were sort of wanting to give worst case scenario so that they didn't promise one thing and then have to say well, actually, it's going to be much longer. If anything they'd rather err on the side of being overly cautious.

This is the wife of Mario Sepulveda. She is being brought now to the place where he will be brought out. Again hugs all around. And as we saw with Florencio Avalos, Mario Sepulveda will likely be allowed to stay with his family for just a few -- well, frankly a few seconds, no more than a minute or so, then will be put on a gurney and brought to a nearby hospital tent where vital signs and other things will be taken.

Our coverage is going to continue all through. Larry King is going to be taking over in just a few minutes.

Let's check in with Gary Tuchman, though, who's on the scene. Gary, everyone around you no doubt watching this as well as us.

TUCHMAN: Anderson, the thing I'm thinking about right now more than anything, is how happy I am for these families. We've had the opportunity the last couple of days to meet so many of these family members who really had great hopes that there'd be a successful conclusion to this.

Obviously it's not done yet because only miner number two is coming up. But they saw miner number one successfully get up after 68 days, reunite with his family. And now they know this capsule works with a human being. And I'm so happy for these people.

COOPER: Yes. The last ascent took 16 minutes, so the clock has already begun to tick, nearly four minutes in. We anticipate within 12 minutes we will see, if all goes according to plan, Mario Sepulveda brought to the surface of the earth after being some 2,000 feet below for these last 33 (SIC) days. It has been just a truly historic 68 days that these miners have been trapped.

We have watched this every step of the way from the joy of the first moments when it was discovered that they were alive. It took 17 days before that was discovered, the joy of seeing them for the first time in those videos. And now the joy of seeing them one by one brought home.

One miner up, another one on the way; we've been watching history tonight. It is not over yet; will not be until every last miner or rescuer steps out of that pod on the surface -- crucial moments ahead.

For more on this remarkable chapter as it unfolds, we turn things over to "LARRY KING" and a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE" -- Larry.