Only four hours after the Pike River blast, Mines Rescue believed all 29 men trapped underground were dead. It took police five days to reach the same conclusion.
The top policeman who fronted the Pike River rescue made a tearful apology to families, and said he was personally gutted at some of their criticisms of him, during the Royal Commission of Inquiry in Greymouth today.
The policeman in charge of the Pike River Mine rescue used Google to learn about Mines Rescue, and has admitted he did not know at the time that Mines Rescue experts believed most men would have died almost immediately.
Pike River families were not told a fire was blazing underground and were given false hope their men could emerge safely and hungry, their lawyer told the Royal Commission of Inquiry in Greymouth today.
Police were today quizzed over their lack of expertise at a hearing into the Pike River mine disaster.
Police sincerely believed some men survived the first blast at the Pike River Mine last November, assistant commissioner Grant Nicholls told the Royal Commission of Inquiry today.
When Pike River Mine survivor Daniel Rockhouse stumbled into an underground haven intended to save him after a massive blast at the coal mine, he found the phone and fresh air valve were not working, there was no first-aid kit.
The smoke-filled fresh air base that Pike River Mine survivor Daniel Rockhouse staggered to had been decommissioned, and a new one was just weeks away from being installed, the Royal Commission of Inquiry was told today.
Pike River safety and training manager Neville Rockhouse, who lost a son in the West Coast coal mine disaster, tried to stop the main ventilation shaft being made an escape exit and when staff attempted the ascent, they became too exhausted to make it to the top.
Scans from deep underground at the Pike River mine may show part of a body in front of an open firebox or self-rescue box, the Commission of Inquiry heard today.
Pike River health and safety manager Neville Rockhouse - whose son Ben died underground - conceded under cross-examination today that the mine's safety plans simply did not consider that it might explode.
An electrician sent to investigate why power had been lost inside the Pike River Mine could see a man lying in the roadway only 2m ahead of him but, unable to breathe and fearing he would die, had to retreat.
Harrowing footage showing the 29 Pike River men entering the mine for their last time before the fatal explosion is to be shown to family members, who were last night told to brace for one last look at their loves ones.