Pike River: Australian Parliament pauses to remember NZ dead

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo / Getty Images
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo / Getty Images

CANBERRA - The federal parliament has paused to remember the 29 miners, including two Australians, killed in the Pike River coal mine blast in New Zealand.

Queenslanders Joshua Adam Ufer, 25, and William John Joynson, 49, were given no chance of survival along with 27 of their workmates after a second explosion ripped through the South Island mine yesterday, five days after an initial blast trapped them underground.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard moved a condolence motion - expressing deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and the whole of New Zealand - in parliament's lower house today.

Ms Gillard said she would visit the New Zealand High Commission in Canberra, along with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, later today to sign a condolence book and formally record the nation's sympathy.

"This is an awful event pressing on a small place (Greymouth)," she told parliament.

Ms Gillard said she had spoken to her New Zealand counterpart John Key.

The rescue of two miners at Beaconsfield in Tasmania and more recently the rescue of miners in Chile had given hope there could be a happy ending at Pike River, she said.

Mr Abbott said every Australian felt for the families and New Zealand at this dreadful and difficult time.

He commended those who had worked so hard to attempt a rescue, one that had proved impossible.

Mr Abbott also supported the government's assistance to New Zealand.

MPs supported the condolence motion by standing in silence for a few moments.

- AAP

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