has been rescued and authorities at the San José site say that they expect the remainder to join them within a matter of hours.
It's a remarkable tale; the men - trapped after a rockfall caused a tunnel to collapse - have spent longer underground than anyone else in history, a fact made all the more remarkable given that initial contact wasn't established with the surface for 17 days. That it looks increasingly likely that all will safely return home explains the global attention that has focused on a previously obscure region that some consider chiefly famous for Pinochet and wine, a fact not lost on the numerous flag-wavers at Camp Hope. Expect superstardom for the miners and a film deal to follow.
But amidst the jubilation it must be remembered that safety standards in the mining industry in many countries are frequently appalling and the death toll often inexcusably high. Chile itself is no stranger to industrial accidents; in 2006 an explosion at the Carola-Agustina copper mine in Copiapó trapped 70 miners underground and President Pinera has promised an improvement in conditions in the wake of this latest near-tragedy.
Chile is not the worst offender in this category, however; that accolade goes to China where thousands of lives have been lost in its coal mining industry in recent years. In the energy-hungry nation the race for fuel has created a boom in poorly-regulated mines, and despite the promise of safety improvements after the 2005 Sunjiawan mine disaster - in which 214 people were killed - there are worries that another catastrophe is long overdue.
That the miners have been rescued is an extraordinary achievement, not just for the men and their families but all those around the world who have been glued to their television screens. But the elation of their safe return must not mask investigations into whether it could have been prevented in the first place - and whether anything can be done to stop it happening again.