Pike River families hopeful of mine re-entry

The families of the Pike River mine victims remain hopeful re-entry into the mine will take place soon.

Carol Rose, secretary of the Pike River families group, told Radio New Zealand this morning expert reports indicated re-entry into the drift could be done safely and within budget.

"Everything points towards the fact that it can be done, that it can be done safely and it can be done economically."

Mrs Rose lost her son Stu Mudge, 31, in the 2010 disaster. Media reports indicate re-entry into the mine drift could take place next month.

"We're in fortnightly meetings with Solid Energy and Government representatives to monitor the progress of what's happening and the drift recovery and we're very, very happy with where it's going," she told Radio New Zealand.

The families of the 29 victims did not want anyone else to be put at risk in the re-entry process.

"Some of the mining experts in the team on the [Pike River] hill....believe that because there was a shift change about to happen at the time of the explosion [and] that there will be men or at least remains of men in the drift itself.

"If we don't get in there, most of the families are pretty good with that, they're fine. Even if one family got one of their men back, we would just rejoice with that.

"If it can't be done, and it can't be done safely, we'll accept that," Mrs Rose told Radio New Zealand.

Prime Minister John Key said safety was paramount in any re-entry plans into the mine's drift.

"It's not being held up in terms of going down the drift because there's a lack of money," he told Radio New Zealand.

"It's because essentially there's a variety of different boxes that need to be ticked, but they're very serious boxes around the health and safety issues.

"The mines inspector has to agree on all of that and my understanding is he's either done that or he's fundamentally in principal in agreement," he said.

- Teuila Fuatai of APNZ

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