22 Nov 2010

Church leader warns locals over mining accident

1:42 pm on 22 November 2010

A Greymouth church minister has warned West Coast people that the Pike River Coal mine emergency may not turn out for the best.

More than 150 people - five times the normal congregation - attended the town's Anglican Church for Saturday night communion.

Archdeacon Robin Kingston said everyone can only hope and pray that all the miners are safely returned to the surface but if they are not the town will struggle to know how to handle things.

Prime Minister John Key was in Greymouth on Saturday offering support to the families of the 29 workers in the mine since an underground explosion on Friday.

Mr Key says international offers of assistance and support have been flooding in, including a message from Prince William.

He says the Government will provide whatever support is needed for a successful rescue mission.

The Chilean and Australian governments have also offered to help in any way they can, he says.

Police have also received offers of help from police services overseas.

Welfare centre set up

A welfare centre has been set up for the families of the trapped workers.

A police spokeswoman says the centre, at the Red Cross Hall in Tainui Street, Greymouth, will provide a warm, dry haven for family and friends as they await news from the mine.

Police say the road to the mine is closed to all except rescue staff and the relatives and friends of the workers are being directed to the welfare centre.

The centre is being staffed by the Red Cross, Victim Support and a crisis management team from Air New Zealand.