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.

Laurie Drew on Sky News this afternoon.

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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78 comments

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    • Gregg says:

      03:07pm | 24/11/10

      Emotions rising is not unexpected but the truth is that in a coal mine that has had an explosion, the likelihood of survival would be minimal.
      It is entirely different to something like a collapse of ground in a mineral mine such as recently in Chile.
      Australia has had coal mine disasters in the past and likely will again in the future though the practice introduced of extracting methane does increase the safety level.

      The size of the initial blast as evidenced by the video of the forceful gas escape at the surface may have given the miners little chance of donning their emergency breathing kits and they are only good for a very short time.
      Any rescue effort into that mine would have required recuers to be fully kitted with long term breathing tanks or being hose connected to a surface supply and the chances of creating sparks to set off further explosions in a heavily methane ladened environment would have been enormously high.

      In any event, they would likely have been dead before any rescuers got close to them, sad but true and other miners would have known that even if for other reasons authorities would not comment so.

    • acotrel says:

      06:10am | 25/11/10

      Gregg, I saw one of the workers who escaped the mine, say on TV that what they had warned against initially had become a reality.  He seemed to indicate that the workers had complained that the gases in the mine presented an intolerable risk, and no action was taken.  The union has a part to play in safety, and I ask the question - why did it fail?  In Australia OHS legislation requires that risk is minimised to a tolerable level, and JSAs are performed.  WHAT HAPPENED IN THE NZ MINE?

    • Gregg says:

      07:32pm | 25/11/10

      I haven’t seen that worker interview acotrel and it would seem to be that gas levels had risen to obviously unsafe levels which is not at all acceptable.

      I’ve been in plenty of mineral mines and only on a couple of occasions coal mines and knowing of disasters, not a place I’d ever be too keen on working though with methane extraction equipment, the last UG coal mine I was in many years ago it seemed safe enough and a lot of mechanical equipment that could have been potential ignition sources was in operation.
      I am no expert on methane detection/control though it would seem there is not much more that can be done other than monitor continuously, have extraction systems and an exceptionally good ventilation system to ensure regular air changes.
      The gas itself like a lot of gases having no odour - http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/chemweek/methane/methane.html

      I suppose there could have been a number of contributing factors:
      . not least, NZ is known as the shaky isles, the Greymouth region on the west coast not all that far from Christchurch which had a big shake up earlier this year.
      Geological movements/tremors could cause extra gas release.

      And then dependant on the extent of ventilation/extraction equipment and development of the mine, pockets of gas could develop abd without the air/gas movement, continual monitoring would be limited - Bad news indeed if that was the case.

      And it is not so much the Union for the mine should have been managed with safety as the foremost concern, especially with a coal mine and here in Oz. we have Departments of Mines Inspectors and don’t know about coal mines but given the risks I would expect that regular reporting on gas monitoring would have been high on the list if not right at the top.
      Even in mineral mines where you have particular operations that can be hazardous if not properly managed, the mining operations I have been associated with always had safety foremost, typical being the deep shaft accessed operations and regular cage free fall emergency braking tests, akin to making sure a building lift will stop if the lift cable snaps.

      I would expect that the practices at Pike Creek will be high on the agenda for the royal Commission announced.
      Australia is not without its diasters too and at Moura in Queensland there have been three large losses of life and two in which bodies have never been recovered.
      http://www.dme.qld.gov.au/mines/moura_inquiries_1.cfm

    • Macca says:

      03:10pm | 24/11/10

      You can’t help by feel absolutely devastated for all those involved, regardless of their relationship with the miners trapped inside. The families may live with an anger for the rest of their lives. The Survivors with a guilt, not because they were neccesarily responsible, but because they survived, when others did not.

    • Mickey says:

      03:37pm | 24/11/10

      Underground coal mines will always be fraught with danger due to the build up of methane gas and other issues. Coal mines should be open cut wherever possible.

    • Tim says:

      03:39pm | 24/11/10

      When the emotion is removed, it’s pretty certain that no one survived the initial explosion.
      It was simply the hope of a Chile style rescue that stopped anyone from coming out and admitting the truth.
      These guys were dead last week.

      The families are allowed to be angry and devastated but directing that anger at the mine managers and company is misplaced at best.

      I’m glad that no one lost their life attempting a ridiculously dangerous rescue.

    • neil says:

      03:55pm | 24/11/10

      Agree the air samples were showing 95% methane concentration so oxygen concentration would be about 1%, thats not survivable even if the explosion didn’t kill them. And their could never have been a safe window methanes explosive range is 5~15% so there was always going to be an explosive mix near the mine enterance.

      All they can do now is seal the mine up let it burn up all the oxygen then wait for it to cool down before opening it up venting out the methane and retrieving the bodies. That coould take months, even years.

    • acotrel says:

      06:40am | 25/11/10

      ‘The families are allowed to be angry and devastated but directing that anger at the mine managers and company is misplaced at best.’

      Tim, you are so biassed, you are totally unbelievable!  Let me spell it out for you.  The CEO is totally responsible.  There is usually a legal obligation t o minimise the risk in workplaces.  I’ll be amazed if the coroner doesn’t recommend that the CEO be charged with manslaughter.

    • Tim says:

      11:24am | 25/11/10

      What are you on about acotrel?
      You think the CEO is going to be charged with manslaughter based on .......???? and i’m the one who’s biased? Now that’s funny.

      Coal mines are dangerous places, accidents happen. If the mining company is found to be liable then sure go nuts at them but until then any anger directed at the company is stupid.

    • Dan says:

      03:40pm | 24/11/10

      You can understand the grief and anger felt by the relatives, but later, in the cool light of day, they will surely concede that it would have been madness to send rescuers into the mine given the gas build-up. Sure they’d have had breathing gear, but their nearest escape would have been two and half kilometres away. They would never have survived an explosion, which as today showed, could happen at any time.

    • rudy says:

      03:44pm | 24/11/10

      You can’t blame the Police and other rescuers for believing the danger of another explosion was too high for anyone to enter. No doubt they had the best expert advice available. No doubt the NZ government will hold an enquiry. In the interim, blaming the Police won’t help anyone.

    • acotrel says:

      06:35am | 25/11/10

      The mine manager should have been kitted up, and sent down to find the bodies. In other high risk industries, managers are compelled to clean up their own mess when they stuff up..

    • Conrad says:

      12:52pm | 25/11/10

      @ Acotrel

      So if a building is on fire because the superintendent left his toaster on then the superintendent has to go up there and save the residents whilst the Fire Brigade feed him words of encouragement?

      See what I did there?.. I applied your ridiculous principle to reality and buried you with it.

      If the Mine Manager was sent down, we’d be mourning 30 men today, but you would be fine with that so long as those “over-controlling bourgeois profit makers are held accountable”. 

      You need to stop plugging the blame is on the white collar worker angle and actually recognise that 29 men lost their lives!

    • nosthow says:

      03:49pm | 24/11/10

      Thoughtful article Tors and yes its a tragedy indeed. No point in pointing the finger of blame at anyone - the sad sad fact is 29 men have died down the mine.  RIP.

    • acotrel says:

      06:25am | 25/11/10

      @nosthow.
      ‘No point in pointing the finger of blame at anyone ‘

      I strongly disagree. Who was responsible for ensuring the risk assessments were done?  And who ignored the risk?  Gross negligence causing death is culpable behaviour, it attracts a manslaughter charge!

    • Macca says:

      11:56am | 25/11/10

      @Acotrel, the safety manager of the mine’s son was trapped. He died. Your comments are increadibly offensive

    • Kika says:

      04:06pm | 24/11/10

      Tragedy. But I keep feeling as though the miners and police knew more than they were saying. They probably didn’t believe that they were still alive, but kept up face to the families to keep them positive. They also probably knew how volatile it was to go down - but this wasn’t advised. If I was family of the miners I would be totally angry by the lack of honest information being passed on. They shouldn’t have kept them hanging if there was little chance of survival in the first place instead of letting them hold onto to hope.

    • Greg says:

      04:10pm | 24/11/10

      The local mayor said this “The old timers told me that the best time to enter a mine is straight after an explosion.” Wouldn’t that make a lot of sense considering that the methane build up would have been burnt up in the first explosion, and logically thinking, it would have taken some time for the gas to build up again to the point where there would have been a concentration high enough to explode? I think this whole affair needs to be thoroughly examined.

    • acotrel says:

      08:24am | 25/11/10

      The police had a duty of care.  In other situations, such as confined spaces tragedies.  Several people have followed the first victim into the danger, and have perished.

    • Bruce T says:

      01:17pm | 25/11/10

      Acotrel..

      Your ignorance is too difficult to fathom, and I gather from reading your other comments that you have a chip on your shoulder based upon ineptitude in your previous employment perhaps, so I’ll make my argument as simple as possible:

      Duty of Care does not mean you follow blind instinct.

      You take the advice on hand to assess whether reasonable people in the same industry would act in similar fashion.

      My belief is that Police were given advice that the mine was too dangerous to enter and thus took measures to try and make the mine safe enough for extraction (i.e.: the robot and testing holes)

      E.g. Sept 11.  Fire-fighters enter both WTC towers because it’s ablaze, they’re fire fighters, and it’ their responsibility to put the fires out and extract the trapped people hence why they acted in this manner.

      Had a bomb been planted in the WTC and authorities were notified, bomb squads would have responded and NOT fire fighters.  As this is not something a fire fighter would be qualified to assess to act upon. 

      So your argument that police have a duty of care to rescue these men is true but they didn’t breach it by failing to run down the hold aimlessly as you would have demanded.

    • BK says:

      04:14pm | 24/11/10

      Every one wants to play the hero. Sometimes, standing back is the hardest and most useful thing to do.

    • Karen says:

      10:16pm | 24/11/10

      Of all the words I’ve read over the last week, these are the truest.

    • Terry says:

      04:21pm | 24/11/10

      Rescue Teams should have gone in DAY 1.

      If they can go in now straight after the 2nd explosion for a Recovery.

      The same thing could have happened on Day 1 and should have happened.

      INCOMPETENCE REIGNS SUPREME.

    • Nic says:

      04:30pm | 24/11/10

      Are you really qualified to say that?

      You really feel confident enough to send 10 more people down, with no escape into an incredibly dangerous environment trying to rescue people that realistically you know aren’t alive.

      Throughout the whole course of this event there’s never been a single sign there were any survivors, they were holding onto vague hopes and wishing for the best.

      Sending a SAR team down would just mean you’ve got more bodies and nothing to show for it. Now at least they can suffocate the mine, get the bodies out and have a serivice.

      It’s incredibly sad but getting angry and blaming the people who tried to help doesn’t solve anything.

    • neil says:

      05:12pm | 24/11/10

      Read my expalanation above, it’s not a slow build up of gas that is the danger it’s having the correct mix, too much methane is quite safe, methane is non-toxic and more than 15% is quite safe as long as oxygen remains at a safe level.

      But a sudden change in the wind or clearing of debris could create an explosive mix in minutes, then all you need is an ignition source, smoldering coal and explosive mix; not good.

      It would be stupid to risk more lives even minutes after the blast.

    • Trevor says:

      07:38pm | 24/11/10

      Hmmm…so you’re a mining expert ?
      OK, if a crew were sent down day 1, what would they have found ? A massive blockage of rock….do you think a rescue team can shift that stuff in hours ? days ??? The only hope was a chile style rescue, and when the gas sample came back from the drill….thats when all hope ended.

    • Gregg says:

      09:55pm | 24/11/10

      Utter BS Terry for they were monitoring gas levels and who says when they will be attempting a recovery.
      First thing they may want to contemplate is getting a better airflow circulation established and some methane vacuum pumps set up.
      Explosions could have cracked the coal seam a fair bit and have more methane present than ever before.

    • Digger says:

      12:39am | 25/11/10

      Sad result, but have to agree with Terry, sitting around waitng for it to be “safe” probably contributed towards bad outcome, how long were they alive down there?. There were enough people prepared to go in but refusal by those in charge prevented it. Same thing happened when a miner with guts went in to Beaconsfield in Tassie, got reprimanded and almost charged for breaching “safety” but contacted trapped miners. Maybe needs further investigation!!

    • michelle says:

      08:35am | 25/11/10

      can’t people just stop playing the blame game and just realise this is a extremely tragic event, and pointing fingers does not bring them back.Yes there should be an investigation, the truth does need to come out, but until all the facts are available stop pointing fingers, and use your time to pray for the family and friends of the 29 miners.

    • iansand says:

      08:57am | 25/11/10

      And if ten extra men were down there when the big kablowie happened, what then?  Would that have been incompetent?  I certainly think so.

    • Dan says:

      04:24pm | 24/11/10

      It’s a sad loss and I feel for all involved. RIP

    • Terry says:

      04:24pm | 24/11/10

      Furthermore POLICE are NOT trained regarding MINES.

      Jack of All Trades and MASTER of NONE.

    • G says:

      07:46pm | 24/11/10

      Wow… this type of attitude really solves things..

      So who is more qualified to rescue the trapped miners? Jack Bauer??

      I’m not a scientist, but from most of the early reports, these men lost their lives on day one.

      The parallel’s between Pike River and Chile have been unfairly drawn and it made people believe that mines are a lot safer than they really are. 

      There is no doubt in my mind that authorities did everything they could to save these men, unfortunately you just can’t send expendables into a mine that is literally a ticking time bomb.

      RIP Miners, my thoughts are with your families and loved ones.

    • Marto says:

      08:20pm | 24/11/10

      Settle down mate. Not exactly sure why you are so worked up, but unless you are a qualified geologist or have prior mine rescue experience (which I will take the odds that you are neither), it might pay to read the comments of the responses.  This way you may actually learn something and not just come across as another shining example of the average News Ltd reader - uneducated, uninformed, and not afraid to show it.

    • acotrel says:

      06:31am | 25/11/10

      I suggest that Neil and Terry should form their own rescue team to act in disaster situations.  We need more heroes like them!

    • fairsfair says:

      02:41pm | 25/11/10

      Acotrel you are too modest - if you were onsite they wouldn’t have most certinly let you go in first.

      You are unbelieveable and the manner in which you have behaved on this forum just confirms that what we have all been trying to pass off as misguided belief or radical partisanship is in fact absolute stupidity.

    • James says:

      02:28pm | 27/11/10

      Police Superintendent Gary Knowles was COORDINATING the rescue/recovery, and he is is qualified to do that.  Like any good coordinator, he was receiving information from expert advisors, and implementing a plan to retrieve the trapped men while ensuring that the rescuers were safe too.
      Mr Knowles remained strong, in control, and did a wonderful job.  He continues to do so, after over a week of great stress and little sleep.
      Any anger at the police and rescuers is sadly misdirected.

    • Deb says:

      04:46pm | 24/11/10

      should not have led relatives on - there was no way anyone survived - it was not Chile… coal mine, not gold mine, relatives need to start the long process to healing

    • Rob says:

      04:46pm | 24/11/10

      where’s all your reports and commentary on the 378 people who lost their lives in Cambodia? or do you know report on non-white countries?

    • NicoleG says:

      05:41pm | 24/11/10

      That’s very harsh Rob. And totally uncalled for.

    • Jade says:

      07:33pm | 24/11/10

      OMG don’t try and bring race into this… this one is a little more close to home I think than Cambodia.

    • Tim says:

      09:57pm | 24/11/10

      mmm, only a true nutter could possible blame us caring for miners as some sport of white supremacy activity.  Cretins, like you should wake up to yourself.

    • chuck jr says:

      11:25pm | 24/11/10

      or how about the famine and poverty in Africa that’s killing millions of people… or the dog riding a surf board. Every story has it’s place Rob.

    • Savvy says:

      05:36am | 25/11/10

      I find that incredibly offensive and you are yourself being racist. This is such a big story because the New Zealanders are like brothers/sisters to us Aussies, many of us have families and friends across the two continents, so there is a certain connection with this particular story.

    • Anne71 says:

      12:48pm | 25/11/10

      Rob, you are beneath contempt.

    • Island View says:

      05:01pm | 24/11/10

      And watching Sky News for the last few days - haven’t the media been desparate to find dissention and anger?  And when they don’t, they themselves get angry when those in control don’t feed them new news at sufficient intervals or worse, they apply their infinate knowledge of what should be happening to create doubt about those in charge of the operation.

      Find a major drama like this and follow it for a day on any 24-hour news channel - it’s very instructive

    • acotrel says:

      10:49am | 25/11/10

      I’m angry and I don’t even live in the town faced with ruin!  From personal experience, I can tell you what it ‘s like to sit in a court room, in a compo case, and explain my actions!  Losing the guys is the last thing that should ever happen!

    • Mark says:

      05:05pm | 24/11/10

      This has been a truly sad and black week for all workers everywhere, in all industries.
      But what has happened? I work in what is deemed to be a “High risk industry”. Our level of risk would have been short of the level of risk that these people are working in everyday before this event.
      There should have been a risk assessment made to identify all hazards within this industry, as per OH&S laws and regulations.
      Part of that would be having the appropriate and mandatory safety and recovery equipment, required in the event of something like this eventuating.
      Have the employers have neglected to do this?
      They were adapting bomb recovery robots (after the event) to do recovery work. That failed. They were to get another type from Western Australia after that, and if not, the US was next.
      This is simply not good enough, and basic neglectful of worker health and safety.
      Sadly, in this case, the absolute worst has happened, and people have died while in pursuit of an income.
      But in a risk management situation, would an expert or even and experienced worker doing this type of work, be aware of this.
      The answer to this must be a definite yes.
      These guys should never have been asked to do this type of work WHILE there was no recovery equipment on site to handle a worst case scenario event like what has happened.
      We will weep for these people for days and weeks to come, but those responsible for the poor management of this work site should be held accountable where it is proven that this event could have been avoided.
      Get behind the families of these people that have lost there lives, and make sure this never is allowed to happen again.
      Where is the fairness in that?


      All levels of High risk work

    • acotrel says:

      06:20am | 25/11/10

      Mark, I totally agree with what you’ve said.  I used to work in the explosives industry, and it’s essential that risk is appropriately managed.  Unions have a role to play in safety, and I’d question the political climate surrounding the NZ mine! Union bashing is always counter productive, - they’re a part of industrial democracy.  This time it’s not only productivity which has been affected.  It’s the lives of 29 workers, and their families’ futures.

    • Gregg says:

      09:57pm | 25/11/10

      UG Coal Mining is one of the most hazardous occupations you can have, quite definitely the most hazardous form of mining.
      Aside from whether or not this particular mine had adequate methane levels monitoring and extraction for its operation, there will never be anything that can stop nature from releasing it from coal deposits where there could be a pressurised void of it opened up.
      Given that most vibration in a mine is going to be at the workface where in a coal mine you can have what is called a long wall excavator, it is also going to be where voids of gas will most likely be opened and also where ventilation and monitoring will be furtherest away from, it just being the nature of this type of mining.
      So saying this type of work should not proceeed, this type of accident can never be allowed to happen again is somewhat wishful thinking.

    • Andrew says:

      06:06pm | 24/11/10

      I suspect that there would have been little hope with an underground coal mine and all the monitors suggesting toxic gases still present. Sending additional potential victims as rescuers would have been foolhardy despite the huge emotional pressure. However, I am completely bemused as to why the police were anywhere near this rescue operation. Mine rescue is highly specialised and dedicated teams spend years training for events like this. In 30 years in the mining industry I have never seen command passed to untrained third parties. Maybe the enquiry will better explain the command structure but think back to Beaconsfield and Chile.

    • Dave says:

      06:36pm | 24/11/10

      Given the the volatility of methane especially when mixed with oxygen, why was a hole drilled from the surface to near the work area?

      The drill hole from the surface that broke through last night/ this morning would have increased the level of oxygen close to the source of the first explosion…..

      Very sad but as stated by plenty of people above and by some residence of Greymouth in TV interviews UG Coal mining is a dangerous job and all who do it know the risks.

    • Rappo says:

      08:15am | 25/11/10

      Dave

      The air pressure in a mine is greater than in the atmosphere

      The drill hole would not have let air in, but let air mixture out. It wouldn’t have changed the air mixture in the mine, thats why they do it

    • Tony of Poorakistan says:

      06:47pm | 24/11/10

      I trust this mine will now be the subject of a safety inquiry and shut down. Prima facie, it is not a safe work location. No amount of management bullshit will change that.

    • Davidson says:

      09:10pm | 24/11/10

      Was Gas detection equipment used through out the mine?And if so why did it fail and also before the blast.workers were saying there was a gas problem today ?  What happened to occ health and safety..hope they sort this out for the future miners
      Condolances to the relly,s

    • neffo says:

      09:53pm | 24/11/10

      yes methane is non-toxic,  but when it burns (or when the coal dust burns) it produces CO which is toxic. even at fairly low levels. also, almost any negative change in oxygen content and the air becomes extremely hazardous. we are talking +/- 2% change. the two dangers in combination (less oxygen in the air, less haemoglobin available) make it extremely fatal.

      more than likely these guys died in a matter of minutes regardless of what the explosion did.

    • BT says:

      11:58pm | 24/11/10

      Firstly, I offer my deepest and most sincere condolences to the families and friends of the miners. It is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to you.
      I am confused about one aspect of the management of the situation though. It was reported that the robot failed because it came in contact with water. What is the point of having a robot that is supposedly designed for underground mining emergencies if it can’t handle a bit of water? My question is - was this just some toy they brought in to make it look like a rescue attempt being made to bide some time? Sorry to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it sounds a bit suspicious to me.

    • Dan says:

      08:05am | 25/11/10

      It was a bomb disposal robot. It was not designed to work underground and in water.

    • BT says:

      09:02pm | 25/11/10

      @Dan, that’s my point. Why send it in then if it wasn’t going to work anyway?

    • Gregg says:

      10:51pm | 25/11/10

      @ BT,
      First of all not every mine has robots hanging about to go and check things out other an UG explosion and in fact very few will have them.
      This particular mine with about 30 guys on a shift is actually a relatively small operation as far as mines go and so it is likely among those that will not have a robot.
      So you lay your hands on what you can get when there is an emergency and whatever you get will want to be set up so it can operate in an explosive atnosphere.
      If you have never been down an UG mine before, either an incline shaft or a vertical shaft one with drives and cross cuts etc., they are not like driving down a paved roadway say as in Snowy Hydro Access ways and you’ll have uneven surfaces but with some provision for draining water.
      That’s all before you have an explosion, then you’ll have who knows what, power off and any air operated pumps for drainage not likely operating.
      You may have seen pictures on the news of shell damage on that Korean Island.
      Well think possibly similar UG and in the dark.
      So you have a robot go in not knowing what you might find.
      Do you have any engineering knowledge?
      If not, just put your suspicious conspiracy theory mind to work imagining bomb damge and the unknown.
      The guys if not killed outright in the blast were most likely dead not long afterwards.
      @ Dan
      There’s always hope and then at the end it could be that the mine will just be sealed, the dead entombed, just as has happened here in Australia in times past at Moura, Queensland and quite possibly in a few other UG coal mines around the country.

    • BT says:

      05:24pm | 26/11/10

      @Gregg, no I don’t have engineering knowledge, and don’t pretend to, I was simply asking a question. Furthermore, I think it is healthy to be skeptical, so please don’t condecend to me. Geez people can be arrogant on this site. Anyway, it just seems amazing to me that OH&S laws in NZ don’t require some sort of all terrain robot in case of emergency. It shouldn’t matter how big or small the mine is, if a robot is crucial to rescue then it should be easily accessible.

    • Rob S says:

      06:35am | 25/11/10

      29 miners never came home from work,
      RIP,
      How very sad for the families…...............

    • David_M says:

      08:12am | 25/11/10

      Too many people too stupid for words here. It was a horrible accident. It may have been preventable, but we don’t know that yet. No doubt many of the keyboard warriors will be yell and scream conspiracy if the Coroner, or Mining Authority find it was simply an accident. They do happen without there being someone for the b lamers to attack.

    • acotrel says:

      10:43am | 25/11/10

      An ‘act of God’? There is no such thing as an ‘accident’, only incidents.  It’s obligatory to stay in control!

    • Conrad says:

      12:39pm | 25/11/10

      @ Acotrel

      Are you that arrogant to assume that mining companies and their employees have complete control of the environment they work in????

      Give us a break!!

      You go digging for coal or minerals, you run the potential of unearthing pockets of extremely dangerous gas, you can drill as many sample holes as you want during surveillance, but in the end, it only takes that one pocket of undiscovered gas to cause a catastrophe!

      My thoughts are with the families and friends of these miners, but I hate when human nature takes over and grieving family’s dictate that “someone should pay”. 

      These men knew of the risk and no matter how many safety precautions you can take, when you’re isolated below ground and surrounded by dangerous elements, anything can go wrong.

      Unfortunately for the Pike River mine it did

    • Sarah says:

      08:13am | 25/11/10

      Unless you’re a mines rescue expert, you shouldn’t make any comment on whether or not it was right or wrong to attempt or not attempt a rescue.
      You simply will not know what you’re talking about.

    • Anne71 says:

      12:56pm | 25/11/10

      Thank you, Sarah, for one of the most sensible comments so far.

    • Anthony G says:

      08:51am | 25/11/10

      they should be still trying to save the miners full steam ahead. Instead of using one drill they should be using 20. Drill some decent size holes get in there and get them out today instead of giving up get fair dinkum.

    • G says:

      12:44pm | 25/11/10

      Yeah drill 20 holes, decent holes and potentially ignite the entire mountain side while you’re at it.

      The fact you think that rescuerers “gave up” is offensive.

      Everything humanely possible was put into this rescue effort, and unfortunately people drew comparisons between this mine story and the Chile rescue, when in reality, the Pike River miners probably died after the initial explosing and ensuing toxic buildup.

    • Andrew says:

      10:10am | 25/11/10

      Some excellent insight here.  Mark and BT pose very important questions in particular.  The NZ police running the operation seems to be alarming to say the least, not to mention the fact that rescue equipment had to be “sourced” and was not on site nor within their known reach.  Of course there is the question of why were the rising gas levels not investigated before the explosion when they were reported?  While few of us may be experts in this field, there is a pattern of imcompetency showing through the fabric of this rescue operation and indeed the working safety procedures of the mine itself.  This tragedy will be picked apart with a fine toothcomb by a variety of investigatory organizations, both national and international and good intentions and sincerity will not suffice as excuses for the lapse in critical response time,  the reluctance to employ international or expert assistance and the failure to provide of a 24/7 qualified laiason to families to provide them with honest and continual updates on all aspects of the operation as well as chances of survival.  I think it is more than a cruel slap in the face to families who were openly given hope to believe that a few of the 29 miners may be rescued to now inform them they were probably all dead anyway, yet this is being offered to them as some twisted form of comfort.  The rationale given for delaying rescue attempts was to ensure survivors and rescuers were not injured, it seems that only half of this was true?  Hope lost is more devastating than hope that was never had. The explosion, five days after the fact, is similarly being waved in their faces as a ‘we told you so’.  The statement by certain authorities “we did everything we could” seems now to be more about avoiding culpability than offering comfort.  This is shameful and highly unethical behavioiur in any event where lives human tragedy is the outcome.  Lessons will be learnt from this dark hour in New Zealand’s history and hopefully there will be room for forgiveness and healing for the families who lost so much in the process.

    • acotrel says:

      10:56am | 25/11/10

      Andrew, when you get into rescue mode, it’s all t oo late!  There is an imperative to MANAGE THE RISK, before the event. From the little I’ve heard, the police acted appropriately.  If your working in a hazardous environment, and the risks aren’t mitigated, you should JACK UP.  My question is - why weren’t the unions effective in ensuring the owner met his obligations?

    • Tim says:

      11:16am | 25/11/10

      acotrel,
      “From the little I’ve heard”

      Yep that sums up your point entirely.

    • Jason says:

      08:34pm | 26/11/10

      mitigate (v): to make less severe.

      you can NOT eliminate the risk in an underground coal mine.  you can reduce them, you can try and reduce the impact, but the risk is always there.

      You clearly have no knowledge of or experience with risk management yet you think you do.

    • Clifford Goodall says:

      12:37pm | 25/11/10

      Cliff says!
      “What Tim says”  From the little all the self proclaimed experts have heard!! What a load of crap most of these posts are!  Save your thoughts for the families that have lost the most important people in their lives! Yes their grandfathers,fathers, sons, brothers. The great christmas it will be for this small community.  So sad for these families. Be strong….

    • Debra says:

      02:20pm | 25/11/10

      A dead bird in a cage used to mean evacuate….NOW.
      So sorry to hear that here is so much loss of life and loss of peace of mind…
      There are certain truths attached to this tragedy…...certain people know what it is in their own hearts. They may well know at what point the bird would have died. One can only hope that enough wisdom is revived to keep safe the lives of others who clearly put themselves at risk daily.

    • Barry says:

      05:05pm | 25/11/10

      I saw on another site yesterday footage of some dickhead journo pushing the point about having his question answered.    A message direct to him, you are lucky I was not in the room, I would have knocked your bloody block off you are a dickhead (No I am not holding back my words)

      To all those who have lost loved ones I feel truely sorry for your loss.  Remember the good times

    • Mark says:

      08:40pm | 25/11/10

      You guys are a firey lot!
      But don’t lose sight of the issue, here.
      People have needlessly died in a preventable tragedy.
      Don’t waste your energy attacking each other over a difference of opinion.
      Your losing your argument and credibility, as soon as you start attacking the speaker

    • underground miner says:

      05:22pm | 28/11/10

      It is so sad and so unnecessary. Yet another few dozens of lives sacrificed on Greens’ feel good altar. Pike coal mine design was dictated by Greens’ laws which obviously made any sensible ventilation and safety measures impossible.
      They have blood on their hands but, of course, they don’t give a whack.

 

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