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Sunday, 21 November 2010

Painful wait for New Zealand mine families

The families of 29 miners trapped in a New Zealand mine after an explosion face many hours more delay as toxic gases prevent rescuers going in. The agony of families of 29 men trapped underground after an explosion at a New Zealand mine is set to continue as delays plague the rescue effort.

Toxic gas levels have kept rescuers out, and a test shaft is being drilled through 150m (500 feet) of rock. The only relief for helpless families on Sunday was being taken to view the mine, reports the BBC's Greg Ward. No contact has been made with the miners since Friday's blast at the mine near Greymouth on the South Island. Rescuers say they have "no idea" how long it might take to reach the men, but they insist they remain positive about finding them alive. The missing workers, aged from 17 to 62, include 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and a South African.
  • Employs some 150 people
  • Operational since 2008
  • Accesses Brunner and Paparoa coal seams via 2.3km tunnel under mountains
  • 5.5m-wide, 4.5m-high tunnel bisects Hawera fault, through which methane gas is known to leak
  • Blast is believed to have happened at 1530 (0230 GMT) on Friday

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