New Zealand Mourns 29 Lost Miners
But mine should reopen, civic leaders say
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2010 7:24 AM CST
Family and friends grieve for the 29 miners and contractors killed in the Pike River mine explosion, in Greymouth, New Zealand, Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010.   (AP Photo/NZPA, Ross Setford)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – As New Zealand mourns the 29 miners lost in Tuesday’s second explosion, civic leaders are already calling for the mine to be reopened. "A big part of our economy on the west coast is coal and, yes, we want our men back down the mine working,” says the district mayor, “but we want them in a safe environment." Authorities are committed to retrieving the miners’ bodies, but poisonous and combustible gas levels are still so high that the process could take weeks or months, the BBC reports.

Families gathered to meet Prime Minster John Key, and while grief was at the forefront of their emotions, many have also expressed anger that rescue teams were not sent into the mine. The British royal family, Prime Minister David Cameron, and Pope Benedict also sent their condolences, but some families have not given up hope yet: The father of a 21-year-old miner said yesterday, “I am still hoping that somebody can be found that is still alive.”