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Obama Hails Chilean Miner Rescue as Inspirational

President Obama
President Barack Obama addresses the Chilean miner rescue during a speech in the Rose Garden of the White House on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

In remarks delivered in the White House Rose Garden this afternoon, President Obama hailed the rescue of 33 Chilean miners who had been trapped in a collapsed mine for 69 days, and said that the resolve of the Chilean people had "inspired the world."

"Last night, the whole world watched the scene at Camp Esperanz as the first miner was lifted out from under more than 2,000 feet of rock and then embraced by his young son and family," Mr. Obama said, during his remarks.

"The tears they shed after so much time apart expressed not only their own relief, not only their own joy, but the joy of people everywhere," Mr. Obama continued. "From the NASA team that helped design the escape vehicle to American companies that manufactured and delivered parts of the rescue drill to the American engineer who flew in from Afghanistan to operate the drill."

The rescue of the Chilean miners, which began last night and involves hoisting the men above ground one by one in a steel cage, has captivated worldwide attention. More than 1,000 journalists are reported to be at the scene in Chile, and footage of the jubilant event has been streaming on both television and the internet.

Mr. Obama, whose comments preceded remarks about a proposed tax break for college tuitions, expressed his hope that those miners still waiting to be excavated would be rescued swiftly and safely.

Chilean officials say they hope to have all 33 of the men out of the mine by late this evening.

"This rescue is a tribute not only to the determination of the rescue workers and the Chilean government but also of the Chilean people, who have inspired the world," Mr. Obama said. "I want to express the hopes of the American people that the miners who are still trapped underground will be returned home safely as soon as possible."

The men, who range in age from 19 to 63, have been trapped in the mine since August 5, 2010, when 7,000 tons of rock collapsed above them.


Lucy Madison
Lucy Madison is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.