20 Nov 2010

Australian mine safety experts join rescue effort

8:10 pm on 20 November 2010

An Australian team of mine safety experts and equipment has arrived in New Zealand to help save 29 trapped miners.

Rescuers were waiting for clearance on Saturday to enter the Pike River Coal mine at Atarau, between Greymouth and Reefton, where the men are missing after a gas explosion on Friday.

Premier Anna Bligh told reporters in Brisbane on Saturday her government has deployed four expert mine safety personnel and 300kg equipment, which arrived in New Zealand on Saturday.

The Queensland team includes two experienced gas chemists, an expert on whole-of-mine gas monitoring systems, and a mine ventilation expert.

The equipment includes sophisticated gas monitoring systems developed by the Queensland government's safety-in-mines testing and research station.

"This is terrible news and our thoughts are with those miners missing and their families," Ms Bligh said.

"This team will play a critical role in advising mine management about gas levels in the mine as rescue efforts swing into action."

Foreign minister Kevin Rudd says another 12 mine rescue experts are on standby if needed.