A NEW attempt will be made to recover the bodies of two Scots miners killed in an underground blast in New Zealand.
Malcolm Campbell, from St Andrews, and Pete Rodger, from Perth, both died last year when a series of explosions ripped through the Pike River mine.
The families of the men have been told their remains could be recovered by Christmas after the authorities decided to mount a new hunt for the 29 victims.
If successful, some bodies could be recovered within the next four weeks.
Speaking last night, Mr Campbell’s family said the new attempt to remove the bodies from their make-shift grave had given them “fresh hope”.
They have worked tirelessly to raise funds for a recovery operation.
His father said: “We have been told a new plan has been approved to recover the drift [main shaft leading to the mine].
“A foam compound will be pumped in to seal the main rockfall within the mine and then the drift will be re-vented.”
It is thought that at least some of the bodies are in the drift shaft, with other bodies, possibly including Malcolm thought to be deeper in the mine.
But Mr Campbell said the development was “very positive”.
He said: “While about 20 of the guys are inside the mine, some men could also be in the drift due to the change of shifts at the time of the explosion.
“Hopefully there could be some closure for some of the families in time for Christmas.
“Malcolm was actually speaking to a controller on the phone when the blast happened. He was doing maintenance work and is likely to be further in the mine.
“However, the new recovery is very positive for us and gives us a bit of fresh hope.”
The news follows the revelation that theNew Zealandgovernment has filed 25 criminal charges for alleged health and safety breaches at the mine.
The government said the charges are against three individuals but refused to name them or detail the charges.
However it’s understood that if found guilty, those responsible could face a fine of more than £3 million.
Mr Campbell welcomed the news of the charges.
He said: “If those operating the mine have done wrong then they should be punished.
“At the end of the day, if there were failings those responsible must hold up their hands.
“I am a quarry manager myself and I take my responsibilities to ensure everybody goes home safely at night very seriously.”
Each of the charges carries a maximum fine of 250,000New Zealand dollars, or £122,000.
The official investigation into the disaster is continuing but the government’s Labour Department needed to file the charges before the inquiry ended to comply with a one-year statute of limitation rule.