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March 5, 2021

New Zealand mine rescue operation underway

Rescuers are close to completing the drilling of a borehole into a mine in New Zealand where 29 men have been missing since an explosion on Friday, according to BBC. The 15cm wide shaft had reached a depth of 142m by 2230 (0930 GMT), 20m short of the area where the miners are believed to be trapped. Probes will be lowered down it to check for gas and listen for signs of life. A robot will also be sent into the mine.

Prime Minister John Key says there is “every chance” the men are still alive. However, senior officials also acknowledge that they are planning for all eventualities, including the “possible loss of life”. There has been no contact with the miners – 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and a South African – since Friday afternoon. They were working at the Pike River mine, near Greymouth on South Island, when there was a large explosion, believed to have been caused by methane gas.

Meanwhile yesterday, all 29 workers trapped underground in a flooded coal mine in south-west China were rescued. Chinese state television showed pictures of the miners being brought out of the mine, one by one, on stretchers. Initially state media had said 28 miners were trapped; they later revised the number to 29. The rescue operation took place at the Batian pit near Neijiang city in Sichuan province, state media reported.

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