Boss charged over blast that killed miners


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The Independent Online

Peter Whittall was the public face of last year's disaster at New Zealand's Pike River coal mine.

He liaised with families and the media, giving updates about the 29 men trapped underground, and was visibly upset when it became clear that no one had survived.

Mr Whittall, the mining company's chief executive, has now been charged over the methane gas explosion that ripped through the mine near Greymouth, on the west coast of the South Island. His company, Pike River Coal, has also been charged, as has an Australian drilling contractor. Four of the 12 charges he faces relate to failing to ensure his employees came to no harm.

He claimed he was being "scape goated" and said he would fight the charges.