A former neighbour of one of the two Scottish men presumed dead in a New Zealand mine blast has paid tribute to him, after hopes for the trapped miners were wiped out by a second underground explosion.
Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews, Fife, were among the 29 men missing following Friday’s initial blast at Pike River mine in Atarau on South Island.
John Daniel, 59, from Perth, Scotland, lived next door to Mr Rodger before he moved to New Zealand. He said: “It’s a terrible waste. We just can’t get his smiling face out of our minds.”
“He was an excellent neighbour. He was working away a lot on the rigs and I was working away overseas at times and we used to look after each other’s houses. He always had a cheerful word for you. He was great.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague sent his condolences to the families of the miners. In a statement released by the Foreign Office in London, he said: “It is with immense sadness that we have learned of the tragic loss of life at the Pike River Mine in New Zealand. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the 29 miners and all those whose lives have been marked by this tragedy.”
Mr Hague said the UK High Commission in New Zealand and consular officials in London had been in close contact with the families of Mr Rodger and Mr Campbell since Friday afternoon, adding: “We are doing all we can to support them at this time of terrible loss.”
The Foreign Secretary added the tragedy in New Zealand had a particular resonance for Britain because of the close ties between the two countries.
Mr Campbell had worked at the mine for two years and was due to marry his fiancee Amanda Shields, 23, on December 18.
His parents Malcolm and Jane Campbell last week spoke of their hopes for their son, saying: “We can`t concentrate on anything, we can’t sleep because it’s difficult.”
Former Perth Grammar pupil Mr Rodger, who previously worked on oil rigs, moved to New Zealand two years ago to be near his mother and sister who emigrated there.