New Zealand is a small country.
We don't have many underground mines, and thank God we don't often have
disasters which kill a number of people at once.
But this week the whole country is mourning the 29 men who died in a coal-mine calamity
on the West Coast of the South Island.
16 miners and 13 contractors became trapped in the mine after a large methane-fuelled
explosion on November 19. A second bigger explosion on Wednesday of this week
put an end to any hopes that the men had survived.
And a third, smaller explosion rocked the mine yesterday, just five minutes
before the time of the first explosion a week before.
Most of the men who died were New Zealanders, but there were also Brits, Australians,
a South African. And in a country as small and sparsely populated as this, everybody
knows someone who has lost a son, a husband, a friend.
Last night, U2 were performing in Auckland, and made a moving tribute to the lost men by
posting all of their names above the stage as they sang their song One Tree Hill, which was
written to commemorate the death of their Kiwi roadie and Bono's PA, Greg Carroll.
Rest in peace,
and may those who are left behind find comfort
in the love of their friends and families,
and consolation in their memories of you.