Wales

Wales rugby tribute to New Zealand miners

Peter Roger and Malcolm Campbell
Image caption Peter Rodger and Malcolm Campbell were working in the mine at the time of the explosion

A minute's silence will be held before the Wales-New Zealand international on Saturday as a mark of respect following the Pike River mining blast.

All 29 miners missing in a New Zealand coal mine since Friday are believed to be dead after a second explosion.

The latest blast hit the mine overnight and police have said there is now no hope of finding survivors.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has sent a "message of support and solidarity" to the New Zealand prime minister.

Wales face New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday in the final match of their autumn international series.

The Welsh Rugby Union confirmed it would hold a minute's silence before kick off as a mark of respect.

The mine was first hit by an explosion on Friday.

Two workers emerged from the mine within hours of the explosion but there was no contact with the remaining group.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the second blast but mine bosses said it was not thought that any rescue work had caused it.

Among the 29 men are two Scots - Peter Rodger, 40, from Perth, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the deadliest mine accident in the country for 96 years was a "national tragedy".

The Queen, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and Wales' First Minister Mr Jones have all passed on their condolences.

Mr Jones said: "Here in Wales, we have a special empathy with our friends in New Zealand with whom we have strong bonds.

"Wales' own industrial history is marked by a long litany of mining disasters and loss of life.

'Respect and solidarity'

"So a disaster like this resonates as the many mining tragedies of Wales are etched on our memories.

"For this reason, our thoughts are with the people of New Zealand and the families of the 29 miners today."

He said it was a "devastating day" for the relatives of the miners and his heart went out to them.

"As we look forward to welcoming the All Blacks, our great friends and rivals, to Wales on Saturday I am sure our whole nation will unite to show their respect and solidarity following this tragic mine disaster," he added.

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