Britain expresses 'immense sadness' at N.Z. mine disaster

24th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his "immense sadness" Wednesday at the news that 29 men missing in a New Zealand coal mine, including two Britons, have died.

"It is with immense sadness that we have learned of the tragic loss of life at the Pike River Mine in New Zealand," Hague said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the 29 miners and all those whose lives have been marked by this tragedy."

Among the men killed in New Zealand's worst mining accident in nearly a century were Peter Rodger, 40, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, both from Scotland.

Police said Wednesday there was no chance of finding the men alive after a powerful second blast tore through the pit in Greymouth in the South Island, five days after an initial blast Friday cut off the mine.

Hague said British diplomats had been in close contact with the two British men's families for the past week, adding: "We are doing all we can to support them at this time of terrible loss."

He said: "I want to thank the New Zealand government and emergency services for the cooperation and help they have provided to the families and our team.

"Links between the UK and New Zealand are extremely close. Many British citizens have made their home in New Zealand and the loss of Mr Rodger, Mr Campbell and their colleagues will have touched the hearts of many in the UK."

© 2010 AFP

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