The First Minister said:
"This is the worst possible news for the families of the miners and I was extremely saddened to hear that the search and rescue operation has ended this way.
"My heartfelt sympathy goes out to their families and friends in a community united in grief.
"They have been through a gruelling ordeal: waiting for news; hoping that their loved ones would be found alive. Knowing the area as I do, I am reassured that they will get all the love and support they need to deal with this personal tragedy in the difficult time to come.
"I would also like to praise the hard work and bravery of the search and rescue team, some of whom put themselves at great personal risk as they tried non-stop to find the missing men.
"I am extremely proud of their efforts and their selfless determination is a fine example to us all.
"I am sure everybody will join me in thanking the emergency, Mines Rescue and Cave Rescue services for their work – they can be proud of their tremendous efforts.
"Now is a time to let the families grieve as they come to terms with their loss."