Their day-to-day struggle for survival has captivated the world for more than two months. As each of the men trapped underground in Chile's San Jose Mine ascend to the surface one by one, they are greeted as heroes -- by ecstatic relatives, joyous friends and a transfixed global audience watching remotely.
By midday on Wednesday, nearly half of the 33 men had been successfully rescued including the oldest and youngest among the trapped. No one in recorded history has survived underground -- with no access to sunlight or fresh air -- as long as these men. By all accounts, the efforts seem to be running smoothly, and are on track to finish before sunrise Thursday.
View dramatic photos of the Chilean mine rescue efforts here: