Hopes have been heightened that the bodies of a Fife man and another from Perth killed in a mining disaster in New Zealand could finally be recovered, almost seven years on from the tragedy.
Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews, was among 29 workers who died when gas explosions ripped through the Pike River mine in 2010, although their bodies have never been retrieved.
Pete Rodger from Perth also lost his life in the disaster.
Families of those who perished believe the outcome of New Zealand’s weekend general election mean manned re-entry of the Pike River drift is close, amid suggestions the formation of a government is not possible without the support of parties which have committed to manned re-entry.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has previously insisted on re-entry into the mine. He has been left as kingmaker after the National party and Labour – which has also committed to re-entry – fell short of the number of seats needed to form a government.
Coalition talks will continue this week but Malcolm’s father Malcolm Campbell Snr hopes Mr Peters will deliver on his promise to make Pike River a priority.
“We were desperately hoping for a Labour win but we’re now kind of hoping that he (Peters) will come this way,” he said.
“I’m hoping that his conscience means he’ll be true to his word, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. It’s been something we’ve been hoping for, and fighting for, for the last seven years.
“It has been a rollercoaster of emotions for us and it’s just starting again. But I’m pretty certain that if Labour gets in then they are going to set up an agency to take over the mine and bring the boys home.
“I was speaking to Tony Forster, who was the former New Zealand chief mines inspector, and he’s pretty confident that if Labour gets in they could be up the drift within the year.”
Although the ruling National party won more seats, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said she was feeling positive after the election stalemate and reiterated her desire to recover the miners’ bodies.
“There are conversations to be had over the coming days and I intend to have them,” she said.
“It seems clear to me though that Mr Peters in particular wants to take a bit of time. That’s something that I completely understand.”
A member of the group Stand with Pike, Sonya Rockhouse, whose son Ben died in the mine, said of Mr Peters: “He’s the one that months and months ago said that he will commit or that it will be his bottom line for any coalition, so regardless of who he decides to go with we’re in a very good position.”