Fourth blast hits New Zealand mine

A FOURTH explosion in nine days yesterday ripped through the New Zealand coal mine where volatile conditions have prevented recovery of 29 workers' bodies.

The miners, including two Scots, Pete Rodger, 40, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, were trapped by the first blast at the Pike River Coal mine on the South Island on 19 November and declared dead after a massive second blast five days later.

There were no injuries from yesterday's blast. Rescuers working near the mine entrance were moved away for their safety.

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Police Superintendent Dave Cliff said they were "doing all we can" to recover the victims, but the new explosion showed the risks involved and the need to keep rescue workers safe.

The new blast was possibly sparked by methane gas leaking from coal seams and a smouldering fire underground.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Rodger, from Perthshire, and Mr Campbell, from St Andrews, Fife

Friends in St Andrews said Mr Campbell, whose father had begged rescuers to "step over the line" to get his son out, had been due to marry fiance Amanda Shields, 23, in Greymouth, near Pike River, on 18 December.