Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Families of foreign Pike River victims to visit NZ

A memorial for the victims of the Pike River mine disaster. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A memorial for the victims of the Pike River mine disaster. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The families of two Scots killed in the Pike River mining disaster are planning a trip to New Zealand to "say goodbye" after a recovery operation was all but ruled out.

International experts from Solid Energy, the mine's new owners, told grieving families on Tuesday they will probably never get their loved ones back.

Consultants explained in detail why a recovery would be so hard and risk the lives of the rescuers.

The two Scottish victims, Malcolm Campbell, 25, and Pete Rodger, 40, died when an explosion ripped through the mine on November 19, 2010. A total of 29 miners died.

Mr Campbell's parents Malcolm (Snr) and Jane Campbell always backed calls to recover the bodies.

However, they told STV in Scotland they had given up hope of a recovery and were now just wanting closure.

Mr Campbell said: "It's going to be too dangerous and we don't want anybody else to be hurt. We just want to have closure. We want to go back to New Zealand to say goodbye."

The Scottish families' views were echoed by Bernie Monk, who lost his son Michael in the explosion and who told 3 News earlier in the week: "We don't want families to be put through the hardships of somebody dying trying to get our guys out.

"We don't want them to go through what we've been through over the last 18 months."

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said families had made a courageous call by accepting the fact that bodies will never be returned to them.


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