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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Families tell of NZ mine trauma

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Relatives of one of the 29 miners and contractors trapped in the Pike River Mine leave a briefing by mine management in New Zealand (AP)

The family and friends of two Scottish miners missing in a New Zealand coal pit explosion have spoken of their anguish as they desperately wait for news of their loved ones.

Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews, Fife, are among 29 miners missing after a fireball ripped through the Pike River coal mine in Atarau on the South Island. Rescuers have still not entered the mine, more than three days after the debris-laden blast.

Mr Campbell’s father, Malcolm senior, 50, and mother Jane, 45, said they were clinging on to the hope of receiving some good news.

They told a news programme: “We can’t concentrate on anything, we can’t sleep because it’s difficult. Our prayers and thoughts go out to everybody who is going through this in New Zealand. We just keep hoping that everything will be fine.”

Mr Campbell is due to marry his fiancee, Amanda Shields, 23, next month.

His father told a newspaper: “I’ve been told Malcolm was right at the coalface when it happened. Only last month we were watching the Chilean miners being rescued. I remember saying to my wife how awful it would be if it happened to Malcolm and now it has.”

Mr Rodger, moved to New Zealand two years ago to be near his mother and sister who emigrated there. His New Zealand-born girlfriend, Dianne Morris, wrote on Facebook: “Just got to keep having positive thoughts.”

Mr Rodger’s friend, John Daniel, 59, told a newspaper he was an adventurer who loved life. “I’m just shocked he is caught up in all this,” he added. “Peter just wanted to make the most of his life and just took everything as it came.”

New Zealand police said that there is still too much combustible and noxious gas present for rescuers to safely enter the mine. Officials have insisted they are still focussing on search and rescue, not search and recovery, it is not known if the men – 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and one South African – are dead or alive.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William have offered support and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond said: “We are concerned obviously for the fate of all 29 of the miners who are trapped. But the fact that two Scots are among them and two Scottish families have that immediate concern makes that all the more immediate for people across Scotland. But there’s no more we can do than send our best wishes for rescue.”

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