Second Explosion at Pike River Mine

( Police Commissioner Howard Broad said this afternoon’s news that a second explosion has ended all hope of finding the 29 Pike River miners alive is devastating for the miners’ families and the West Coast community.

“This is extremely distressing and we, like the rest of New Zealand, are deeply saddened at this news and for the anguish the families and the community will be feeling.”

Mr Broad said this is an event which will stay with the Coast forever and now was the time to show leadership to help the community through this tragedy.

Mr Broad said there was an opportunity this afternoon to consider sending in a rescue team. While that assessment was being worked through, the second explosion happened at 14.37.

“Experts have told us that the men have perished, that the blast was unsurvivable.”

Mr Broad said there had been limited prospects that the miners had survived the initial blast and that as time went on the chances of anyone being alive diminished. The second blast removed all chance of survival.

Mr Broad said, understandably given their huge loss, there has been anger directed at the Police decision, based on expert advice, not to send in rescue teams straight away or in the days that followed.

“This is the most natural of human reactions but Superintendent Knowles’ decision making process was sound and based on the best advice from world class experts, information which was itself peer reviewed by other leading experts.

Mr Broad said Superintendent Knowles did an extraordinary job in the most difficult of circumstances.

“Running an operation of this size is a challenge. The officer in charge is directing a team of police personnel, interacting with those other government agencies involved, listening to expert advice, sourcing the right expert advice, organising the required equipment, dealing with the families involved and fronting the media.

“We do search and rescue operations as a matter of routine but conducting one involving a coal mine in a remote location posed particular difficulties and I don’t know too many people who would have been able to pull this all together as Superintendent Knowles did. ”

Mr Broad said the operation is now moving into a recovery phase.
“This will be complex and extremely challenging also.”

Media Release 24 November 2010 from NZ Police.