27 Missing After NZ Mine Blast

1 killed in explosion at South Island coal mine
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2010 11:57 PM CST
Updated Nov 19, 2010 10:48 AM CST
The Pike River Coal Mine portal in Atarau, New Zealand.    (AP Photo/NZPA, Martin Hunter)

(Newser) – One person is dead and at least 27 are unaccounted for after an underground explosion at a coal mine on New Zealand's South Island. An electrician sent to investigate a power outage discovered a loader driver who had been blown off his machine nearly a mile into the mine shaft, the Otago Daily News reports. Five men emerged, slightly injured, from the Pike River mine hours after the blast, the AP reports.

The 27 people unaccounted for include both miners and management, who were on a safety tour of the mine when the explosion occurred, the New Zealand Herald reports. Emergency services, including rapid response mine rescue teams, have rushed to the scene, but rescue efforts are being delayed because of fears that remaining pockets of gas might ignite. Authorities say the mine has an evacuation chute that miners can access if the main entrance is blocked.

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