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Dozens of NZ miners crossing after blast. -

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Twenty-seven miners are unaccounted for after a blast at the Pike River mine near Greymouth on New
Zealand's South Island.


SCOTT BEVAN, PRESENTER: Up to 27 workers are unaccounted for after an explosion in a coal mine on
New Zealand's South Island this afternoon.

Tonight, a rescue operation is underway at the Pike River mine near the town of Greymouth.

It's reported five workers have emerged from the site but it's not known whether the others are
still alive.

This report from the ABC's New Zealand correspondent, Dominque Schwartz.

DOMINIQUE SCHWARTZ, REPORTER: This is the damage on the surface of the Pike River coalmine
north-east of Greymouth. Scorched and smoking earth and twisted metal. At the moment, the damage
underground can only be guessed at. The mine is still not safe enough for rescuers to enter.

TONY KOKSHOORN, MAYOR OF GREYMOUTH: The mine's rescue crews are working frantically at the moment.
They're up there, they are doing everything they can. It's a waiting game. They're making sure that
the mine is safe to go down but at the moment there are 27 unaccounted for.

DOMINIQUE SCHARTZ: The mining company says a gas explosion cut power and communications this

Inside the mine, a loader driver was blown off his machine. He and another man walked out.

PETER WHITTALL, PIKE RIVER COAL CHIEF EXECUTIVE: The two men who came out of the mine site are
being treated for injuries but they both walked out under their own steam and the nature of the
injuries to other employees I can't determine at this stage.

DOMINIQUE SCHARTZ: Relatives of those unaccounted for are being directed to a waiting centre set up
near the mine but the region's mayor says no-one has given up hope.

TONY KOKSHOORN: Look we just saw in Chile, all those miners, every single one of them they got out
of the mine. So I'm hanging on to that at the moment.

DOMINIQUE SCHARTZ: The mine has only recently made its second export shipment of coking coal to
India. Operations had been delayed by machinery failures and a rockfall.

But Pike River Coal says safety is its top priority and it will do whatever is needed to bring its
workers to the surface alive.

Dominque Schwartz, Lateline.