Memorial service for mine tragedy victim

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A memorial service to commemorate the life of St Andrews man Malcolm Campbell will be held today (Friday).

The former Madras College pupil died along with 28 colleagues in the Pike River mine tragedy in New Zealand late last year.

The Campbell family will be joined by friends at the service in St Leonards Church which begins at 11am.

Twenty-five-year-old Mr Campbell left Scotland in 2007, initially to go to Australia on holiday before deciding to move onto New Zealand around three years ago.

He died along with fellow Scot Pete Rodger, from Perthshire, in a series of blasts at the Pike River pit, in Greymouth, last November.

He had been due to marry his 23-year-old fiancé, Amanda Shields, on December 18.

Attempts to recover the men’s bodies had to be abandoned owing to the volatile conditions in the mine.

CHALLENGE

Police commissioner Howard Broad, who has been in charge of the recovery operation, explained to the families why the recovery operation was called off.

He said rescue staff had battled to stabilise fumes and temperatures since November, but admitted experts from New Zealand and Australia had agreed that the challenge was proving impossible.

“Frankly, my confidence in terms of a recovery operation to bring the men out is quite low,” Mr Broad said.

“The assessment is that the likelihood of getting into the mine safely is unrealistic. On this advice, we do not hold out hope the men will be recovered. It is time to focus on the living and memorialise those men who have died.”

Mr Broad also told them that the mine would now be handed back to receiver PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

SUPPORT

He added: “Any discussion about a lost loved one is a traumatic event in its own right. There were some extremely probing questions of the decision-making process, but I think they were grateful for having been briefed on this.

“This, as an event in New Zealand’s national life, is going to continue for some time and we will continue to support the families through that time.”

A coronial inquest into the tragedy was due to go ahead this week.

A spokesman for the Chief Coroner said the inquest would be limited to establishing the time and cause of the men’s deaths in order to establish and confirm their identities and allow death certificates to be issued.

Wider issues concerning the cause of the tragedy would be covered later by a Royal Commission of Inquiry.