Mine boss: Families realise bodies may not be retrieved
The Pike River miners' families have started to accept they may never get their remains back, Pike River boss Peter Whittall says.
Whittall said at a press conference this afternoon he had no idea what condition the 29 men's bodies would be in as they were potentially located 500 metres from the fire.
He said some families had accepted their loved ones may not be returned.
"Some people still have hopes of tappng on a pipe but largely there is resignation to total loss of life and resignation for some that they may not get their family back as they want."
Whittall said there were still flames coming up out of a ventilation shaft and loose coal was definitely burning. The coal seam was also probably on fire.
He said the GAG unit, which could not be used today after foam used to seal the mine caught fire, should be running tomorrow morning but that it may take weeks to make the mine safe for recovery teams to enter.
The machine, a jet engine which uses water vapour, has been brought from Australia to try and put out the coal fire.
The foam fire was not linked to the coal burning in the mine - it was not uncommon for it to catch alight when large amounts were used, Whittall said.
He was focused on getting into the mine but knew it might have to be closed.
Whittall said many staff were worried about employment, but it was difficult to see what would happen from here.
Management at the mine had met with contractors and were doing a commercial review.
Superintendent Gary Knowles, who has been overseeing the operation, had planned to brief journalists at 1pm. However, this was cancelled without reason.