Nasa hails rescue of Chilean miners

2010-10-13 21:58

Washington - The US space agency, which has advised Chilean teams on how to rescue 33 trapped miners, on Wednesday hailed the successful operation as the men were brought slowly to the surface.

"I am proud of the people of this agency who were able to bring the experience of spaceflight down to Earth when it was needed most," Nasa chief Charles Bolden said in a statement.

"On behalf of the entire Nasa family, I want to ask that our heartfelt thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the courageous miners, their families and friends, and the dedicated people who have been working to safely reach those who are still trapped underground."

He also praised the unstinting efforts of the Chilean government to rescue the miners, who were at first feared to have perished after the upper galleries of their gold and copper mine collapsed on August 5.

"There is a lot of hard work ahead for rescuers, but the Chilean government and the people of that great nation should be praised for their steadfast determination," Bolden said.

"Their unwavering commitment is the reason we are witness to the joyful and emotional reunions today as the miners are returned to the surface one-by-one."

Nasa experts, experienced in getting astronauts through extended periods of isolation, have been advising the Chilean rescue teams on how to sustain the men's spirits during their long captivity.

"For decades, the people of this agency have learned to live, work, and survive in the hostile environment of space," Bolden explained.