Queen 'deeply saddened' by N.Zealand mine tragedy

24th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II said on Wednesday she was "deeply saddened" by the news that 29 men missing in a New Zealand coal mine, including two Britons, have died.

"I am deeply saddened by today's news that there is now no hope for the men trapped in the Pike River mine," the queen said in a message to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, released by Buckingham Palace.

"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.

"I send my thanks and deep appreciation to everyone who has worked so hard to attempt a rescue and also to those who will have a part to play in the task of healing the pain that is being felt throughout New Zealand and around the world.

"At this sad and difficult time my thoughts and prayers are with you all."

Queen Elizabeth II remains the official head of state of New Zealand, a former British colony.

The queen had been receiving daily and sometimes hourly updates from New Zealand since an initial blast on Friday cut off the mine and followed developments "closely and with deep concern", a royal source said.

Police said Wednesday there was no chance of finding the men alive after a powerful second blast tore through the pit in Greymouth in New Zealand's South Island.

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, the Foreign Office said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague earlier expressed his "immense sadness" at the news.

© 2010 AFP

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