Pike River blast: World waits for news of miners

Family, friends and work colleagues of trapped miners after a meeting with Pike River coal mine officials. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Family, friends and work colleagues of trapped miners after a meeting with Pike River coal mine officials. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Pike River mine blast has made headlines around the world, with two Britons, two Australians and a South African are among men missing in the West Coast mine.

One of the two Scotsmen among the 29 miners trapped down the Pike River mine changed careers after a leg injury sustained on a North Sea oil rig.

The other is due to marry his fiancé next month.

The Herald Scotland reported Peter Rodger, 40, from Perth in Scotland, has been working as a mechanic at the coal mine since April, and lives with his Kiwi girlfriend Dianne Morris.

He moved here two years to be closer to his mother and sister who live in New Zealand after sustaining a leg injury on an oil rig.

Gary Fraser, a friend of Mr Roger, told the BBC he was a "strong character" and that this was the second time he had been trapped in recent months.

The Herald Scotland said he was trapped underground for eight hours just three months ago after another mining accident.

Friend John Daniel, 59, a friend, told the Sunday Telegraph he was "an adventurer" who "loved life".

"I'm just shocked that he is caught up in all of this. He had just settled himself down over there - he had been through a difficult time. Between him being on the rigs in the North Sea and going over to New Zealand, he had worked in Africa - somewhere like Angola.

"Peter just wanted to make the most of life and just took everything as it came."

Mr Daniel's wife, Doreen, 60, told Sunday Telegraph Mr Rodger was the "type of person who could cope" with the ordeal of being trapped.

"He was never someone who liked a normal life - he was very adventurous. And he was always having a joke and a laugh."

Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews, is due to marry his Kiwi fiancé Amanda Shields, 23, on 18 December.

"You can imagine what it's like for her," Mr Campbell's mother Jane told the Sunday Telegraph. "We've been talking on the phone constantly and she's bearing up, but its very difficult. We've heard nothing at all about the progress of the rescue operation.
She told the paper the ordeal has been "absolute hell".

"Malcolm is a real character - always playing jokes on people - and I think he'll be one of the ones keeping every one down there going."

Mr Campbell's father Malcolm told STV News: "We can't concentrate on anything, we can't sleep because it's difficult.

"Our prayers and thoughts go out to everybody who is going through this in New Zealand. We just keep hoping that everything will be fine."

One of the two Australians known to be missing is Queenslander Josh Ufer, 27, whose pregnant girlfriend Rachelle Weaver is due to give birth in May, the Herald Sun has reported.

The identity of the other missing Australian is not yet known.

Ms Weaver's mother, Nancye Langley, told the Herald Sun her daughter was "trying to cope as best she could".

"She's distraught and waiting for any kind of news just like everyone else," Ms Langley said.

The paper reported Mr Ufer has been contracted by Lucas Drilling Company as an underground supervisor for the past nine months.

His mother, Joannae, has flown to New Zealand from Queensland while his father, Karl, who also works in the mining industry, was flying in from China.

"Josh is determined and works hard. He is strong and would punch through the rock to get out of there. If anyone is to survive, it will be him," one friend told the paper.

Ms Langley told The Age Mr Ufer is a "really, really lovely young man. There is no doubt that Josh loves Rachelle completely and she loves him completely."

The South African missing is reported to be Koos Jonker.

His wife, Christelle, thanked friends and family for their support on her facebook page.

"Thanks for all your prayers please do not stop and keep on believing it," the message reads, translated into English from Afrikaans . "Thank you thank you thank you messages. I appreciate each and bears them away to me and read it to Koos and I swear he heard it."

- NZ HERALD STAFF

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