The Pike River coal mine in New Zealand has finally been re-entered after a series of delays and failures over the past eight years.
A re-entry crew of up to six miners have breached the 30-metre seal and entered the mine drift in the presence of families of the victims.
“New Zealand is not a country where 29 people can die at work without real accountability. … And that is why today we have fulfilled our promise. Today we have returned,” Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little said.
Twenty-nine lives were lost on November 19 2010 when multiple explosions hit the Pike River mine drift due to a cause that’s yet to be discovered.
Little blamed the unfortunate deaths on ‘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,” he said.
The latest re-entry attempt was scheduled for May 3 but had been delayed following a false oxygen reading from a failed sampling tube.
Three agency teams would carry out Pike River’s re-entry and recovery, with initial work on ensuring the drift was safe before a second ‘forensically-focused’ mining team would enter to examine and remove any evidential material.
The teams will advance until the drift is recovered.
“There is still much to do. We must find out what happened at Pike River. However long that takes, the recovery project will be done professionally,” Little concluded.