25 Nov 2010

Greymouth in shock as NZ grieves

8:27 am on 25 November 2010

New Zealand is grieving and Greymouth is a community in shock following the Pike River mine disaster.

Flags are flying at half-mast nationwide on Thursday, in a mark of respect for the 29 men who have lost their lives in the mine.

Parliament will rise early on Thursday after paying its respects.

Pike River is the country's worst mining tragedy since an explosion killed 43 men in Huntly in 1914.

It is the single biggest loss of New Zealand life since the Erebus disaster in 1979 and the biggest loss within the country since the Wahine sank in 1968.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says Greymouth has been changed forever.

The Prime Minister is flying to the West Coast to offer support and plans are already underway for a national memorial service.

A vigil was held at the Holy Trinity Anglican church in Greymouth on Wednesday night.

Those attending the service included friends and family of the miners, community leaders, the mayor, local politicians and Coasters.

National service

The Dean of Christchurch says the cathedral is an obvious choice for a national memorial service.

Peter Beck says that while he has not been formally approached, Christchurch cathedral - which can hold up to 1000 people - is a natural venue if such a service is considered appropriate.