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Mine disaster close to heart

Leah Chapman says too many people have lost their lives in mining disasters.
Leah Chapman says too many people have lost their lives in mining disasters.

AS tragedy unfolded in a New Zealand mine this week, Leah Chapman watched on and felt the pain of the families affected like few others could.

The Fingal Head woman lost her husband Andrew Morton in an underground mining incident in Western Australia in September 2006.

The mother of two said she wanted to help the families affected, but for now all she could do is send all her love.

“It has brought back a lot of stuff for me, obviously,” she said yesterday. “It has been so horrible watching it every day.

“I am feeling for those people; my heart goes out to them.”

New Zealand police confirmed yesterday afternoon all 29 miners trapped below ground at the South Island town of Greymouth had died following a second explosion deep in the mine yesterday afternoon.

They were initially trapped after an explosion last Friday.

Ms Chapman and Mr Morton had two children together, Jed and Seth, and she said it would be the children who would suffer the most in the years to come.

“It is devastating for the families, and especially for the children.

“The wave of effect created from the death of 29 people is enormous.”

Ms Chapman travelled to Karratha earlier this year to share her story with a group of 170 mine workers and stressed to them the importance of workplace safety.

While she said she couldn't comment on the conditions at the Greymouth mine, she said she was tired of seeing lives lost in mines and called for safety to be addressed.

“It is the same old thing. I definitely think safety needs to be looked at, and we say this over and over again,” she said. “I keep beating the same bush.

“We have lost a lot of boys and something needs to be done.”



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