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Mine 'still not safe for rescuers'

Rescue teams are still unable to go into a mine where 29 people including two Britons were caught up in an underground blast because it is not safe, police said.

A miner's helmet with the light still working was discovered at the site but air samples showed high levels of carbon monoxide and low levels of oxygen.

As time wears on, the expectation of finding all the miners alive are diminishing although the chief executive of the Pike River mine told a press conference he hoped he would see at least some of them again.

Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews, Fife, are among the group of miners missing following Friday's blast.

Two workers stumbled out of the mine within hours of the explosion, but there has been no contact at all with the remaining men.

A phone line deep inside the mine has also rung unanswered.

Police superintendent Gary Knowles said: "The environment is still unstable, it's unsafe and it's not appropriate to send rescue teams underground. Whilst I can understand their (families') frustrations we are doing everything possible to facilitate going underground."

Pike River mine chief executive Peter Whittall described a meeting with relatives of the miners as "sobering".

"While there's still a number of families obviously frustrated and trying to understand the decision-making process that's been gone through from the emergency services, there's also obviously a very large understanding amongst the group that the gases we are finding from this borehole and the location of it and the length of time and all the other factors is making their hopes diminish and making it more difficult for them to hold out the hope that all 29 of those guys are waiting for us as we hoped on day one and I think we are all coming to that realisation now," he said.

"Certainly not that there's no one there and that's what all this rescue is about. I certainly hope the guys are waiting down there. I certainly hope I get to see them again and I certainly hope that as many of them as we can get out will be got out safely."


From Belfast Telegraph