Mine boss: Families realise bodies may not be retrieved

Last updated 19:41 30/11/2010
Hamish Coleman-Ross

Footage taken from the air shows the fires that continue to burn out of the ventilation shafts to the Pike River Coal Mine. Footage from TV3, compiled by Hamish Coleman-Ross.

GAG unit
The 'GAG unit' - a modified jet engine used to neutralise gases in the Pike River mine, in operation on Thursday.
BURNING: Flames coming out of a ventilation shaft at Pike River Mine on Monday.
BURNING: Flames coming out of a ventilation shaft at Pike River Mine on Monday. The fire is now said to have reduced.

Relevant offers

Pike River mine disaster

Pike re-entry decision may be delayed Payout to Pike River families under way Pike decision 'firmly based on legal principles' 'Not appropriate' to continue Pike boss prosecution Bid to retrieve Pike mine workers starts Pike River re-entry project to begin Couple want son to stay in mine Light at end of the tunnel Pike River entry decision set to be announced Pike River mine re-entry plan

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.

Ad Feedback

- The Press

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content