New Zealand mine owners won't retrieve 29 killed

2014-11-06 10:24


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Wellington - The owners of a New Zealand coal mine where the bodies of 29 workers remain entombed after a methane-fueled explosion four years ago said Thursday they won't go back into the mine because it remains too dangerous.

The announcement by state-owned company Solid Energy dashed the hopes of those who had sought to recover the remains of their loved ones from the Pike River mine, located on the South Island.

Solid Energy Board chairperson Pip Dunphy said in a statement the company was unable to come up with a safe re-entry plan.

"We know this decision will be very disappointing to the family members and friends of the men who died in the mine," she said. "However, any further loss of life in this mine is unacceptable and any possibility of other families having to go through what the Pike families have suffered is not something our board can support."

Dunphy said risks included the possibility of the roof collapsing due to fire damage and difficulties managing gas levels and ventilation.

Health and safety violations

Bernie Monk, whose 23-year-old son Michael died in the accident, said that expert advice gathered by the victims' families indicated the mine could be re-entered safely. Nevertheless, he said, it was time to move on rather than spending months more debating the issue.

"Reluctantly, some of us, like me, have succumbed to the realisation that the men will have to stay there and that's their burial ground," Monk said.

Solid Energy also announced it was relinquishing its Pike River mining permit, which will revert to government ownership. That means the company won't seek to extract any more coal from the mine.

Monk said the families have asked the government to turn the site into a memorial and a health and safety training area.

At the time of the accident, the mine was owned by the Pike River Coal company, which later went bankrupt. A government investigation found Pike River Coal ignored 21 warnings that methane gas had accumulated to explosive levels in the mine.

The company was convicted of nine health and safety violations, while charges against the company's former boss were dropped last year.

Read more on:    new zealand

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.