On 5 August 2010, a cave-in occurred at the San José copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert near Copiapó, Chile. The accident left 33 men trapped 700 metres (2,300 ft) below ground. The miners survived underground for a record 69 days. All 33 were rescued and brought to the surface on 13 October 2010; the first miner emerged from the Fénix 2 rescue capsule at 00:10 CLDT and the last at 21:55 CLDT. After the last trapped miner was winched to the surface, the rescue workers held up a sign stating "Misión cumplida Chile" (English: "Mission accomplished Chile") to the estimated more than 1 billion people watching the rescue on live television around the world.
The San José Mine is about 45 kilometres (28 mi) north of Copiapó, in northern Chile. The miners were trapped approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the mine entrance. The mine had a history of instability that had led to previous accidents, including one death.
The retrieval of the first miner, Florencio Ávalos, began on Tuesday, 12 October at 23:55 CLDT, with the rescue capsule reaching the surface 16 minutes later. Less than twenty-four hours later, at 21:55 CLDT on 13 October, all 33 miners had been rescued, almost all in good medical condition, and expected to recover fully. Two miners were suffering from silicosis, one of whom also had pneumonia, and others were suffering from dental infections and corneal problems. Three of the rescued miners had immediate surgery under general anesthesia for dental problems.
The total cost of the rescue operation was estimated at US$20 million, a third covered by private donations with the rest coming from state-owned mining corporation Codelco and the government itself.