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Police chief vows to bring home miners

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Police chief vows to bring home miners

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WELLINGTON – The police chief heading the effort to rescue 29 New Zealand miners missing underground following an explosion has vowed to “bring them home”.
Superintendent Gary Knowles said they had to ensure the site was safe before sending rescue teams below ground.There has been no contact with any those missing at the remote coal mine on New Zealand’s South Island.
Officials said there were 29 miners unaccounted for, two more than previously thought. Earlier, two workers walked out of the mine with moderate injuries.
A company official earlier said that five men had come out of the mine, based on information from the two who came out, but there has since been no sign of the other three men.“Our primary focus over the next 24 hours is to to hopefully locate the miners and bring them home safely,” Knowles said at a news conference.
“One of the key things we are facing at the moment is that the environment is somewhat unstable.“I’m not prepared to put crews down below underground until we can stabilise the environment and it’s safe to go in”.
The explosion at the Pike River mine is believed to have happened at around 2:30 a.m. today.
An electrician went into the mine at 1550 to investigate a power failure, and 1,500m (4,920ft) into the shaft he discovered the driver of a loader who had been blown off his machine. He then raised the alarm.
Mining experts said it could have been an explosion of methane gas, coal dust, or a combination of the two. (AP)