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New Zealand miners’ loved ones in ‘desperate’ vigil

As hopes diminish that the 29 miners trapped underground in New Zealand will be found alive, relatives visiting the site were overcome with grief yesterday at seeing the men's cars still parked outside, and a board with their name tags missing.

Nearly three days after an explosion ripped through the Pike River coalmine, on the South Island's west coast, rescuers were still waiting to enter the site because of fears of a build-up of methane and carbon monoxide. A fire was also believed to be burning underground.

Experts began drilling a bore hole through 500ft of rock to help assess air quality and to lower listening devices. But police chief Gary Knowles said authorities had “no idea” when it would be safe for rescuers.

Arrangements were being made to fly the families of two missing Scottish miners, Peter Rodger and Malcolm Campbell, to New Zealand.

With no word from the men since Friday's blast, relatives in Greymouth, the nearest town to Pike River, were angry and frustrated by the delay. “Every day we don't hear a voice from that mine it becomes desperate,” said its mayor Tony Kokshoorn.

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