World's press hail 'Miracle of San Jose'
The joyful faces of Chile's rescued miners beamed from frontpages around the world Thursday as newspapers reflected on the universal appeal of a televised drama in a remote corner of South America.
"The Miracle of San Jose" read the main headline of Britain's Daily Telegraph while the South China Morning Post trumpeted "Prayers, Tears and Jubilation" on its front page, accompanied by pictures showing tears of joy.
The New York Times described the rescue as "genuinely touching," and said the climax of the rescue reached "the kind of emotional peak that brought even veteran reporters on the scene to tears."
The operation as a whole, wrote the Times "was also a reality show expertly produced by the Chilean government, which spared no expense to free the miners and accommodate media coverage."
The reality TV theme was echoed by many other papers after a 22-hour rescue carried live on rolling news channels all around the world.
"Hardly anyone had ever heard of the San Jose mine beforehand but now it's the centre of the world," said the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant.
"This story had all the ingredients of a reality TV show.... They came out one by one, they were national heroes, their lives are going to be changed forever. And best of all, there was a happy ending."
Italy's La Stampa newspaper carried an interview with the Chilean writer Antonio Skarmeta who said the story had captivated so many people as it went to the heart of universal themes such as death and resurrection.
"It's rare case... that the hopes of a small and distant country becomes a source of inspiration for the entire world," he said.
For Britain's Daily Mirror, the triumphant rescue was so uplifting as it highlighted the strength of the human spirit.
"What we have learned from those 33 working men, and the men who saved them, and the families who waited for them, is that human beings are fundamentally good, and brave, and kind, and smart, and tough," wrote its columnist Tony Parsons.
"For what the human heart craves above all else is a story about the unbreakable nature of the human spirit, a story that chases away our blackest fears, a story with a happy ending. And no story ever had a more improbable, and heart-warming ending than the rescue of the miners."
In China, where more miners die in pit disasters than anywhere else in the world, an editorial in the Beijing News said the rescue "should inspire us and give us a reference for work safety and emergency mechanisms."
Germany's Die Welt newspaper reflected how rolling news channels and the Internet had played their part by bringing coverage of events in a small South American country into living rooms thousands of miles away.
"Nearly a billion people followed the rescue by Internet, on the radio or the television," it said.
"A day of joy for Chile became one for the whole world."
Chile's President Sebastian Pinera, who was present throughout the rescue, was deemed by several papers to have been one of the heroes of the operation.
The Wall Street Journal said "the smooth rescue operation is a reflection of the businesslike attitude that Mr Pinera, a billionaire businessman turned politician, brought with him when he took office in March."
"The president gained popularity with his energetic management of the crisis," said an analysis in French daily Liberation by journalist Gerard Thomas. Pinera "needed a happy ending to the trauma of the 33."
© 2010 AFP