Pike River scans may show part of body

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.

Solid Energy projects investigation manager John Taylor had just taken the 3D images down the slimline shaft on November 24 when the massive, second explosion ripped through, smashing equipment.

The actual footage has been suppressed.

The open lid is seen as crucial, because it implies someone may have survived the first blast, or else been reaching for fire equipment before or after. The area was later destroyed by the subsequent blasts.

Maptech laser scanning consultant James Moncrieff's statement, said one box lid appeared to be open further than a self-rescue box lid was capable of; but not as far as a firebox, although that lid may have been resting on something.

An image of an object in front of the box was of poor quality and not consistent with being a complete body. Mr Moncrieff said.

The commission also saw other 3D images from fairly deep inside the mine, which showed the workings were generally intact _ a wooden pallet had not moved, and a continuous miner could just be seen. There is a suggestion of another body in those images.

Some pipes have come off the walls and roof.

Separate video taken elsewhere shows a catastrophic roof collapse.

Mr Taylor also talked about how close he came to being caught up in the massive, second blast.

On the Wednesday, he and others arrived at the top of the slimline shaft, and pulled up a bucket with food and radios which had been lowered earlier.

Pike staff told then via radio that methane levels in the mine were "off scale''.

After they finished, they moved away to wait for a helicopter.

"We suddenly heard a huge roar, and immediately took off down the hillside. A huge plume of smoke, soot, coal dust and other debris had gone up the slimline.

"The duct that had been partly move to one side had now been completely blown off the top of the shaft some of the debris landed on one of our tool boxes and smashed it to pieces.''

Glenville Stiles, a trainer contracted to Mines Rescue, conducted audits of medical equipment at Pike, the last, a week before the blast.

The lids on all the two self-rescue, and one firebox, were down on November 12. However, it appeared at least one box was moved in the following week.

In the scan, part of the open box appears empty - all were full the week before.

The open box was likely to be the firefighting one, he concluded.

Mr Taylor also revealed that on the Tuesday before the images were taken, he witnessed some "fairly acrimonious'' debate at the mine site about risk assessments going to Wellington, causing "undue delay''.

At one stage Boart Longyear threatened not to drill any further, amid concerns the Department of Labour did not want to change plans once they had been signed off, he said..

The hearing resumes on Monday.


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