Pike River: Fear turns to blame and fury
The devastating news out of New Zealand this afternoon, that a second, larger, explosion almost certainly means none of the 29 men still down the Pike River mine are alive, is accompanied by a huge amount of anger directed towards both the mine management and the police who have been in charge of the efforts since last Friday’s initial explosion.
In a gut wrenching interview on Sky News earlier, Laurie Drew, who’s 21-year-old son Zen has almost certainly perished in the mine, said the mine’s owners had missed the window of opportunity for a rescue. He didn’t mince words.
“The company’s got what they wanted, they had their opportunity on Friday night and now there’s no one left alive the truth can’t come out ... If we find … after that first blast people were alive there’s going to be problems,” he said.
“Those guys at the top should have been down here talking to us, not hiding behind bloody windows.”
And a clearly furious Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn has also given a press conference saying the police had mucked up the operation. Mr Kokshoorn said: “The old timers told me that the best time to enter a mine is straight after an explosion.”
But mine boss Peter Whittall said the second explosion could have occurred at any time since the initial blast last Friday afternoon and that any action or inaction so far was “absolutely correct, absolutely right”.
“[Today’s explosion] was a natural eventuation that could have occurred on the second day, it could have occurred on the third day, it occurred today,” he said.
“What happened up there wasn’t because of the guys who were working up there.”
The policeman who has been the public face of the operation Supt Gary Knowles, who was under enormous pressure to authorise a rescue crew to enter the mine said: “This is the worst thing I’ve experienced as a police officer”.
It’s a terrible day for New Zealand, and anger mixed with grief is a terrible mix. But now the operation has definitely turned from rescue to recovery, the owners of the Pike River mine will lose the benefit of the doubt.
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