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New Zealand mine recovery abandoned

Police have abandoned efforts to recover the bodies of 29 miners, including two Britons, presumed dead after a series of explosions trapped them in a New Zealand mine.

Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews, were among the men missing after the initial blast at the Pike River mine in Atarau on the country's South Island on November 19.

On November 24 police said the miners would not have survived the "horrific" second explosion, and rescue teams were "in recovery mode".

On Thursday, New Zealand Police Commissioner Howard Broad said it was too dangerous to attempt to find the bodies and he would not put additional lives at risk.

Fires and explosive gases have stopped rescuers entering the mine for nearly two months.

Mr Broad said: "The likelihood of getting into the mine safely is unrealistic because it is too unsafe. In my view, it is time to focus on the living and to respect and memorialise those men who have died."

Mr Broad said he had spoken with the families of the miners.

The missing miners, aged 17 to 62, carried 30 minutes of oxygen and more fresh air was stored in the mine along with food and water, but all hope faded after news of the second blast.

Two workers stumbled out of the mine within hours of the first explosion but there was no contact with the remaining group of men, which also included 24 New Zealanders, two Australians and a South African.

Mr 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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