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Miners' families wait for NZ news

The family and friends of two Scottish miners missing after an explosion in a New Zealand coal pit are desperately waiting for a delayed rescue mission to begin.

Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews, Fife, are among 29 men missing after a fireball ripped through the Pike River mine in Atarau on South Island.

Rescue teams have still not entered the mine, more than three days after a debris-laden blast tore through the pit's underground tunnels.

Officials are drilling a 500ft (152m) hole from the mountain above the mine to assess air quality and to lower listening devices, but as the hours drag on hopes for the men are beginning to fade. A hi-tech robot was also being prepared to be sent into the mine to transmit pictures and take more measurements.

New Zealand police said there was still too much combustible and noxious gas present for rescuers to safely enter, despite fresh air being pumped down the mine through an open air line.

Mr Campbell's father, Malcolm senior, 50, and mother Jane, 45, said they were clinging on to the hope of receiving some good news about their son. They told STV News: "We can't concentrate on anything, we can't sleep because it's difficult. Our prayers and thoughts go out to everybody who is going through this in New Zealand. We just keep hoping that everything will be fine."

Mr Rodger moved to New Zealand two years ago to be near his mother and sister who emigrated there. His New Zealand-born girlfriend, Dianne Morris, wrote on Facebook: "Just got to keep having positive thoughts."

Police and mine rescue crews later acknowledged for the first time that the miners may not have survived.

Police Superintendent Gary Knowles said rescuers were keeping an open mind. However, he added: "But we are planning for all outcomes and, as part of this process, we're planning for the possible loss of life as a result of what's occurred underground."

Prime Minister David Cameron and Prince William have sent messages of support and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond told BBC Reporting Scotland: "We are concerned obviously for the fate of all 29 of the miners who are trapped. But the fact that two Scots are among them and two Scottish families have that immediate concern makes that all the more immediate for people across Scotland. But there's no more we can do than send our best wishes for rescue."


From Belfast Telegraph