Celebrations after successful Pike mine re-entry

Families have come out from the Pike River Mine, celebrating a successful re-entry nine years after the West Coast disaster.

Twenty-nine men died after a series of explosions at the mine in November 2010. Just two workers managed to get themselves out to safety. The mine had been sealed while National was in power.

The official re-entry took place this morning, two-and-a-half weeks after it was postponed because of problems with gas-monitoring equipment.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said yesterday that the re-entry "was symbolic". She visited the mine entrance earlier this month for a ceremony with the families.

Family Reference Group Chair Anna Osborne and mine worker Shane McGeady. Photo: supplied
Family Reference Group Chair Anna Osborne and mine worker Shane McGeady. Photo: supplied

The group representing 29 of the Pike River Families - the Pike River Family Reference Group - welcomed the unsealing of the mine at the private family event today. Media were not allowed to attend.

Group member Anna Osborne, who lost her husband to the mine explosion, described the opening of the doors as "incredibly emotional".

"Watching those doors open and seeing the light enter that dark tunnel for the first time in years was incredibly emotional. We've known we are going back in for a year now, today it feels like it. This is the start of a journey that will end with truth and justice."

"It was hard them looking back and seeing all the lights, something we wished we could have seen nearly [10] years ago. It has been good finally to get to this stage and maybe, just maybe, one day one of us may be lucky and also to have some justice for all of our men," said Tracey Keane-Harvey, whose son Riki was killed in the mine.

She said she would polish a piece of the mine's seal.

"And maybe make a trophy and send it to National," she said. 

The Pike River Mine Recovery team break through the seal at Pike River Mine today. Photo: supplied
The Pike River Mine Recovery team break through the seal at Pike River Mine today. Photo: supplied
Bernie Monk, who lost a son in the mine, said today's event was "pretty moving".

"The thing is I'm really happy for the families today, being at the coal-face like all of us have been."

Asked what it was like to see the re-entry, he said this was the fifth time they'd had a go at it.

It wasn't until he saw the concrete removed that they were "on their way".

"We've got a long way to go," he said.

Pike River father Rowdy Durbridge, whose son Dan Herk was killed in the mine, described the re-entry as "almost like a mark of defiance" after Solid Energy sealed it up years ago.

"It was good... it's sort of a symbolism, if you like, of getting in. But to see the doors swing open was pretty good.

"I was part of the team that put the pillars in that hung on to the doors in order to give us an air lock on the first re-entry plan which was canned and Solid Energy in all their wisdom back-filled it and used it as a stopping.

"To me it's almost like a mark of defiance, you know, when you're told that you can't do something and you know in your heart that you can and thanks to the back-up that we've had, we've done it. We're in."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Little join grieving families as they gather outside the...
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Little join grieving families as they gather outside the Pike River mine entrance on May 3. Photo: NZME

The Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry, Andrew Little, said he was proud to have fulfilled the Government's promise of re-entering the mine.

"New Zealand is not a country where 29 people can die at work without real accountability. That is not who we are. And that is why today we have fulfilled our promise. Today we have returned.

"The tragedy that took these men's lives was the consequence of corporate and regulatory failure. Fulfilling the promise to do everything possible to safely re-enter is an act of justice for families who have waited for far too long.

"It is because of the families' tireless efforts that future mining tragedies might be prevented."

However, Little said there was still "much to do."

"We must find out what happened at Pike River. However long that takes, the recovery project will be done professionally.

"Most importantly, it will be done safely. Safety is the families' and the Government's bottom line. This was demonstrated when we delayed re-entry earlier this month.

"Today's milestone belongs to the families and to the memory of their men. It also belongs to all New Zealanders, who know that going home to your loved ones is the least you should expect after a day's work," he said.

Canterbury University geology professor David Bell told Newtalk ZB's Mike Hosking today that he doesn't think there had been any deterioration, because the mine was left in an inert state after being 90% filled with methane.

He said just short of the rock fall there may well be some useful information about electrical circuits that may have triggered the explosion.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn told Newstalk ZB's Kate Hawkesby the Government's brief was to go to the rockfall at the end of a 2.3km tunnel.

He said 400 metres that had not been seen yet by robots or cameras would be covered, but there were probably no bodies in that area.

Kokshoorn said the Government could say it had done all it could for the families, so they have to accept closure.

 

 

 

 

Comments

easy as that///////// what happened to the key national government/

Pike River was part of four disasters which marked the North ,the East , the West and the South and was a sign of the end of socialism and communism in New Zealand.

 

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