Prince William leaves NZ after emotional visit

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Prince William left New Zealand Saturday following an emotionally charged two-day visit in which he paid tribute to more than 200 people killed in recent earthquake and coal mine tragedies.

The second-in-line to the British throne, accompanied by a small entourage, flew out for Australia where he will tour cyclone-ravaged areas in Queensland, a New Zealand foreign ministry spokesman said.

On Friday, the prince walked among the rubble of Christchurch following the February 22 earthquake and expressed shock at the devastation before attending a memorial service for the estimated 182 people killed.

The previous day he visited Greymouth, on the South Island's West Coast, and met the families of 29 miners killed late last year when a gas explosion tore through the Pike River colliery.

"Prince William's visit earlier this week was deeply humbling and was met with so much enthusiasm and goodwill from New Zealanders," said Prime Minister John Key.

"I know the prince's attending the Christchurch earthquake memorial service in Her Majesty's stead on Friday made the event an even more moving and memorable occasion."

© 2011 AFP

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