Miner Mario Sepulveda celebrates after his rescue.

The rescue of the 33 Chilean miners that have been trapped 2300 feet underground since August 5 reached is over halfway completed Wednesday afternoon. 22 of the miners have been brought to the surface, leaving 11 left to be rescued.

According to rescuers it is taking approximately forty minutes for each rescue which allows them to bring three miners up every two hours. This speed could allow the rescue operation to end much faster than they had anticipated.  In the beginning there was a small delay in the operation to work on the wheels which appeared to be giving them a problem. Otherwise rescuers have stated that the operation is going smoothly.  The chamber is moving well, and is not rotating as badly as first believed, so dizziness is not as big a factor as originally feared.

So far, four rescue workers have been lowered into the underground shelter to help prepare the miners for their voyage to the surface. They are making sure that the miners have a series of vaccinations and that they are mentally and physically ready for the trip. Prior to their rescue, the miners have undergone daily exercise, weigh-ins, blood tests and urinalyses to keep up with their health. They were placed on a liquid diet for hours in advance of the rescue in case of any vomiting in the chamber.

Miners are wearing special clothing that helps prevent skin infections and special sunglasses that protect their retinas, as they approach the sunlight and environment that they have been away from for 68 days.

As the miners are released one by one, they are greeted by family, friends, supporters and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. Some have already been transported to the hospital and the rest will be there soon. All will remain for two or more days for observation of their physical and mental health.