Added by Annika L. Krugel on November 25, 2010
29 coal miners trapped last week after an explosion in the Pike River Coal mine, in New Zealand, were killed after another explosion took place inside the mine, stated Gary Knowles, the police and rescue team commander.
The second explosion took place on Wednesday, in the afternoon, and the cause of it is yet unknown. Until this time, high amounts of methane gas inside the mountain, where the mine was built, have prevented rescue teams from going inside.
After the second explosion took place, Commander Knowles stated that no miner had survived. “There was another massive explosion underground, and based on that explosion, no one survived. The blast was horrific — just as severe as the first blast. We’re now going to recovery mode,” stated Gary Knowles.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, stated for Radio New Zealand that the incident was a “national tragedy”. “The country is unified in its grief and hopefully it will give some comfort to the families that have been left behind. We need answers to what happened at Pike River. We owe it to those families,” said the prime minister.
NZ Prime Minister John Key further added that the accident affects the entire country. “This is a national tragedy, a tragedy for the men’s families, for their work mates and friends, for their community and our nation. New Zealand is a small country, a country where we are our brother’s keeper. So, to lose this many brothers, at once, strikes an agonizing blow,” stated Key.
Currently, the rescue teams’ priority is to return the bodies to their families. However, Chief Peter Whittal stated during a press conference that the mine is still dangerous which prevent rescue teams from going inside.
Furthermore, the level of toxic gases inside the mountain may delay the bodies’ retrieval by weeks or even months. However, families of the miners who were killed inside the Pike River Coal mine do not want the mountain to be sealed in order to make it the miners’ tomb, according to Whittal.