Image: the victims of the Pike River Mine Disaster
Pike River families have been gifted legal control of the road to Pike River mine by the landowner and will not allow Solid Energy access to seal the mine.
Bernie Monk, whose son Michael was killed in the disaster, says locals are building a checkpoint overnight. “Thanks to the support from all over the Coast we’re now able to totally stop them going ahead with concreting up the entrance to the mine.
“Solid Energy and the Government have tried to ignore us and push us aside. Now they have to listen to us.
“We’ll be in Wellington on Tuesday to take our new expert plan for re-entry to Bill English. He has the chance to do what his predecessor wouldn’t and call off the sealing of the mine.
“Pike River is a crime-scene and we want to get into the drift to recover our loved ones’ remains and the evidence that might be down there. We’ve got a plan to do it and we’re not going to let the opportunity to get answers get buried under hundreds of tons of concrete.
“We’re happy to let DOC through and anyone who needs to do safety work, but sealing up the mine isn’t going to happen.”
Protest action on the occupied land on Logburn Road will begin at dawn tomorrow. Family members will be releasing a new report on re-entry at Parliament on Tuesday.
The Pike River Mine disaster was a coal mining accident that began on 19 November 2010 in the Pike River Mine, 46 kilometres (29 mi) northeast of Greymouth, in the West Coast Region of New Zealand's South Island.
A methane explosion occurred in the mine at approximately 3:44 pm (NZDT, UTC+13). At the time of the explosion 31 miners and contractors were present in the mine. Two miners managed to walk from the mine; they were treated for moderate injuries and released from Greymouth Hospital the next day. The remaining 16 miners and 13 contractors, often referred to as the twenty-nine, were believed to be at least 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) from the mine's entrance
Following a second explosion on 24 November at 2:37 pm, the 29 remaining men were believed by police to be dead. Police Superintendent Gary Knowles, officer in command of the rescue operation (Operation Pike) said he believed that "based on that explosion, no one survived." A third explosion occurred at 3:39 pm on 26 November 2010, and a fourth explosion occurred just before 2 pm on 28 November 2010. According to the new mine owner, Solid Energy, the bodies of the 29 miners who died there may never be recovered.
The Pike River Mine incident ranks as New Zealand's worst mining disaster since 1914, when 43 men died at Ralph's Mine in Huntly. It also resulted in the country's worst loss of life caused by a single disaster since the 1979 crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901, although it was surpassed four months later by the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
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