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Two Britons among trapped miners

David Cameron and Prince William have offered their support following a catastrophic explosion at a New Zealand coal mine which has left workers, including two Britons, trapped underground.

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

Fears for their safety are growing as rescuers are still unable to enter the site due to concerns that dangerous levels of methane gas could trigger a second blast.

Prince William has sent an email to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key offering his support.

A Clarence House spokesman explained: "William has been to New Zealand on several occasions and is very fond of the country. He wanted to send a message of support."

Mr Cameron sent a text message to his New Zealand counterpart saying: "I am thinking and praying for the best. I will make sure our diplomatic team help in any way they can."

Former Perth Grammar pupil Mr Rodger emigrated to New Zealand two years ago to be closer to his mother and sister who live there. He was formerly an offshore oil engineer.

It is not known if the men - who have now been missing for almost two days - are dead or alive.

Mining expert Professor Dennis Buchanan from Imperial College, London, said it was unusual that rescuers had still not entered the mine. He explained: "I'm very surprised. I'm sure they have good reasons."

Police believe there are 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and one South African inside the mine. Pike River Mine's chief executive, Peter Whittall, said nothing had been heard from the 16 employees and 13 contract miners and repeated attempts to contact them had failed.


From Belfast Telegraph