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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Queen 'saddened' by NZ mine tragedy

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Peter Rodger is one of two Scottish men presumed dead in the mine blast (AP)

The Queen said she was “deeply saddened” as it emerged that 29 miners, including two Britons, were presumed dead after a second explosion ripped through a New Zealand mine.

Police said the workers would not have survived the “horrific” second explosion and rescue teams were “now in recovery mode”.

New Zealand’s prime minister John Key said the country was “a nation in mourning”.

Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews, Fife, were among the men missing following Friday’s initial blast at the Pike River mine in Atarau on the country’s South Island.

In a message from the Queen, sent to Mr Key, she said: “I am deeply saddened by today’s news that there is now no hope for the men trapped in the Pike River mine.

“My heart goes out to the families and friends of these 29 brave miners and to all who have been touched by this national disaster.”

Foreign Secretary William Hague also sent his condolences to the families of the miners in a statement. 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.

Friends also paid tribute to the Scottish miners on Wednesday.

John Daniel, 59, from Perth, 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.”

The other Briton, Malcolm Campbell, had worked at the mine for two years and was due to marry fiancee Amanda Shields, 23, on December 18.

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