From NBC's Athena Jones
WASHINGTON, Oct 13 -- The Chilean people have inspired the world, President Obama said as he applauded the rescue of miners at Camp Esperanza.
Rescue efforts were still underway as Obama spoke in the Rose Garden at an event highlighting college tax credits. Some 18 of the 33 miners had been retrieved after more than two months underground in the mine in the Atacama desert in northern Chile.
"This rescue is a tribute not only to the determination of the rescue workers and the Chilean government but also the unity and resolve of the Chilean people," the president said. "I want to express the hopes of the American people that the miners who are still trapped underground would be returned home safely as soon as possible."
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters in the morning press gaggle that the president would likely call Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. Pinera has heard from presidents from around the region and from British Prime Minister David Cameron, according to his Twitter account.
Gibbs also said President Obama watched the rescue as it unfolded last night.
"Let me also commend so many people of goodwill -- not only in Chile, but also from the US and around the world who are lending a hand in this rescue effort," Obama said in the Rose Garden. "From the NASA team that helped design the escape vehicle to American companies that manufactured and delivered parts of the rescue drill to the American engineer who flew in from Afghanistan to operate the drill."