It took nearly a week, but former "American Idol" finalist Elliott Yamin finally got out of earthquake-ravaged Chile on Thursday. The singer, who was in the country performing at a singing competition, announced the news on his Twitter page.
"Whooohoo!! ... just got my ticket home errrrbodyy!!!!! ... never thought I'd b so happy in an airport b4!!!," he tweeted late Thursday, posting a photo of the airline ticket counter rep celebrating the joyous occasion. Yamin originally hoped to leave the country on Tuesday, but due to the widespread damage from the powerful quake, he was unable to make it to a major airport and was forced to stay in the country until he got clearance to leave from the U.S. embassy.
The quake hit just hours after season five's third-place finisher performed at the competition in the city of Viña del Mar, which is about 200 miles south of the epicenter in heavily damaged Concepción.
The singer, who is diabetic, was fretting earlier this week about what he would do if he ran out of insulin while unable to leave the country, which suffered a massive 8.8 earthquake on Saturday.
"I don't know how long we're going to be here. This country isn't very keen on insulin pumps; supplies for my pump are running low," he told Fox News. "Hospitals here are very crowded, and as you can imagine, they are dealing with bigger things."
When he first arrived at the Santiago airport on Thursday, Yamin marveled at how chaotic the situation was, with makeshift terminals set up outside and flight schedules scribbled on whiteboards. But, just three hours after arriving, Yamin posted the good news, "Thought it was gonna take way longer 2 check in !!! ... whoohoo!! ... I can smell Los Angeles, USA from here baby!!!"
As he prepared to leave, Yamin added, "U may think it's easier 4 me 2 say now, but I really wish I could stay & perform at the benefit concert, but I have a charity gig on Sunday in L.A."
According to CNN, a 24-hour telethon called "Chile Helps Chile" is slated to take place on Friday, with organizers hoping to raise $27 million to help quake victims.
The country was rattled by two strong aftershocks early Friday morning (March 5), one a 6.8 the other a 6.3, as the country continues to dig out from the fifth-strongest quake there in the past 100 years. The disaster has left thousands homeless, toppled buildings all along the coast and killed nearly 300 (the death toll figure was revised downward on Thursday from more than 800).