Image via WikipediaToday at Pike River - 75 hours after the mine explosion and no rescue yet..
by peter petterson
It has now been 75 hours since the mine explosion at the Pike River coalmine near Greymouth on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island,trapped 29 miners below ground. There has been no contact or any news about the state of the mine or the health of the miners. A telephone in the mine has not been used. Two miners who were late coming into the mine were injured by the blast,but made there way out to safety and received medical help last Friday.
There have been a number of meetings between the various parties involved and with family members since Friday.Technical help has arrived from Queensland in Australia, and now from the NZ military a robot has been sent and tested this afternoon by Army personnel. This should be sent into the mine tomorrow. The levels of poisonous gases in the mine have been monitored regularly by helicopter. A road through the national park on the mountain is being cut to make access easier. A bore is being drilled through to the mine, and should be completed in a few hours. A camera will then be sent down to examine the interior of the mine.
Yesterday a full list of those down in the mine was released to the media and reported by various television and radio networks
While there have been very positive signs of hope that rescue teams would soon be down to search and rescue these miners: 24 kiwis, 2 Aussies, 2 Brits and 1 South African, the state of the mine has prevented it up until now. There has now been a rather subtle change in speech and body- language by the police commander, mine manager and the NZ prime minister, John Key and his Minister of Energy, Gerry Brownlee. They have mentioned a search and recovery scenario now.
The families of the trapped miners have become increasingly despondent and frustrated by the lack of action, but the police will not risk endangering rescue personnel until it is safe to enter the mine. Something that occurred in Australia a number of years ago; a number of rescuers were also killed along with some of the miners. The NZ scenario is chillingly similar to that of the West Virginia mine tragedy many years ago - all 29 miners were lost there after a similar mine explosion. There are also 28 miners trapped in a flooded mine in China at present.
As I mentioned above specialist rescue equipment has been flown in from Queensland, and will be off-loaded from Christchurch to Greymouth. A robot has been sent south by the NZ Army, and cameras will be sent down to view the mine once the bore being drilled on the mountain above the mine, has been completed in a few hours. The bore will also enable quicker monitoring of the poisonous gases down in the mine. Heat-seeking equipment can also be dropped down the bore in an attempt to confirm that there is life down there.
While the miners may be out of food, there are plenty of fresh water supplies throughout the mine. Any injured miners will obviously be in need of treatment by now
On the negative side of the ledger, there may well be a decision tomorow to search and recover bodies down in the mine. As I wrote above, the names of all of the miners have been made available to the media, and have been distributed by the various radio and television networks. And Pike River could turn out to be another West Virginia scenario
But being the usually positive character I am, all the miners could well be rescued tomorrow and emulate the situation over the mountains in Christchurch where there are still no fatalities from the massive 7.1 earthquake there a few months ago, apart from a number of heart attack fatalities which may be attributed to that disaster, and nearly three thousand after-shocks as well.
As the man said, cross your fingers and hope to die. But still no rescue yet. But tomorrows another day!