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Rescue teams are preparing to go into the new Pike River coal mine, amid concern for 29 miners who are believed to be trapped after an explosion rocked the remote mine in New Zealand.
The teams were checking for gas in the mine which could build up because of a lack of ventilation.
Two men had come out of the mine and were being treated in hospital for moderate injuries. They had told authorities that another three were making their way out.
Police said they did not know of any deaths, as had been reported by some media. "Look we just saw in Chile all those miners every single one of them, they got out of that mine, so I am hanging onto that hope," Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said at the scene.
The Pike River coal mine is dug into the side of a mountain range in the country's rugged South Island.
The mine, which only began shipping coal this year, is burrowing into a deposit which, according to one recent visitor, was relatively gaseous.
The mine's main tunnel is more than two kilometres into a mountain range, but only around 150 metres deep, which is seen as an advantage because it will make it easier to use heavy equipment. The area is so remote that mobile-phone service is patchy.
The company produces hard coking coal used in the steel industry and has been hit by a series of technical problems, including rock falls, which delayed its development.
The company said each miner carried safety equipment, including personal oxygen cylinders.
The last major coal mining disaster in New Zealand was in 1967 when 19 miners were killed in an explosion at a coal mine in the same part of the country, a major coal-producing region.