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Mine blast bodies to be recovered

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A mission to recover the body of Malcolm Campbell and other victims of the Pike River mine disaster is to start next week

A mission to recover the body of Malcolm Campbell and other victims of the Pike River mine disaster is to start next week

A mission to recover the body of Malcolm Campbell and other victims of the Pike River mine disaster is to start next week

An operation to recover the bodies of 29 miners, including two Britons, who died after an explosion in a New Zealand mine will get under way next week.

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 last year.

Five days later, police said the trapped miners would not have survived a "horrific" second explosion, and rescue teams were "in recovery mode". In January, police abandoned efforts to recover the bodies of the miners, who were presumed dead after a series of explosions.

The family of Mr Campbell, who had worked at the mine for two years and was due to marry fiancee Amanda Shields, 23, said a mission to recover the bodies would start from Monday.

Mr Campbell's father, also called Malcolm, said: "This news after six months of agonising uncertainty has given us new hope that we can get Malcolm and all the other boys out. It is disappointing that the families have had to pressurise those involved to recover the bodies and that we still haven't had the boys home.

"It is so hard for us now that Malcolm's granddad has died too. He would have wanted us to do everything we could to keep the pressure on the receivers and the police to at least try to recover all the bodies. Malcolm is still our boy and we just want to bring him home to be with his granny and granddad in Cameron Churchyard."

The Campbells have been in contact with lawyers representing them in New Zealand. Relatives of those who died have been told the recovery operation could cost anything from £1 million to £4 million.

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Mr Campbell said: "Sadly, it all boils down to money. There are billions of pounds worth of coal in that mine and millions of pounds worth of equipment in there. If, as we now know, from photographic evidence, the bodies are still intact, then that equipment will still be intact too and the receivers, or whoever is going to buy the mine, will want to retrieve that. Aside from the families' wishes, from a purely economic point of view, it makes sense for whoever owns the mine to recover the bodies and get it working again.

"That part of New Zealand is a very wealthy area, but it is fast declining as work dries up. They need the mine to be operational to help regenerate the economy which has been severely damaged by the Pike River disaster, then the earthquake in Christchurch.

"We know from talking to the men who worked there that no miners will work in that mine if the bodies are not recovered. It could still provide vast amounts of income for the area if it started up again. We would like to see the Government intervening. Peter Rodger and Malcolm are still British citizens. Peter won't be repatriated as his home was in New Zealand, but Malcolm should be allowed to come home."


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