It was the miracle the watching world had scarcely dared dream about. But finally, yesterday, a ghastly ordeal came to an end as a group of 68 stranded journalists were airlifted away from their prison in Chile's Atacama desert.
'You can't imagine it,' said the BBC's Matt Frei, from aboard a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter. 'Over two months of endless heat and boredom, hundreds of miles from the nearest bar. Sometimes we had to huddle together in the dark trying to keep each other's spirits up by memories of our expense accounts.'
True, every journalist knows the perils that go with the job: the long hours, the monotony of repeating pieces to camera that have gone wrong first time, the very real risk of suffocating under a mountain of cliches. For many of the trapped men, however, their Oxbridge education, their amorality and the ability to type give them no other options in life.
'The hardest thing was knowing that the real world was so close by,' added ITN's Michael Brunson. 'There were even several dozen local women hanging around the camp and all of their husbands and boyfriends were away, for some reason we never quite picked up, but not a single one of them was putting out. Quite bizarre.'
The journalists to a man said that they were relieved to be out and are looking forward to rejoining their loved ones in the Garrick Club this evening. Despite it all, most remain committed to their jobs and are looking forward to their next assignment, covering breaking reports of a traffic jam in the Maldives.