Greymouth, New Zealand, Nov 23 – Five days since the explosion that rocked the Pike River coal mine in New Zealand’s South Island, experts are saying hopes are fading of finding the 29 men inside alive.
At around 3:45pm NZDT on Friday, November 19, an explosion, the cause of which is unknown, severed communication with the mine and blocked all access to beyond the blast zone. Two men escaped from the mine but the men inside, ranging from as old as 62 to as young as 17, are as yet unaccounted for. Rescuers have been unable to enter the mine due to dangerously high toxicity levels within the mine and the high risk of a secondary explosion.
However fears are growing that all 27 may not have made it. While there is a chance that at least some of the men have survived, the situation is growing more desperate with each passing hour. There are concerns that if the rescuers cannot enter the mine due to high gas levels, even with their protective equipment, then chances of the miners surviving are even slimmer.
A bore tunnel is currently being drilled to measure gas levels and hopefully be able to lower a camera into the mine to check the situation. A robot which was sent into the mine at 6am this morning was reported to have broken down by 8am and latest reports state that it is still in the mine with a second robot ready to be deployed.
Premier Daniel Anderson has stated “all Sirocco unites in praying that these brave men are rescued from the mine safe and sound. We hope that this catastrophe has taken no lives and that the men are still alive and well in the mine.”
Live updates of the Pike River Mine situation can be viewed at stuff.co.nz and at tvnz.co.nz. The Times will provide updates when possible.