Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 24:  New Ze... A second explosion at Pike River has destroyed any chance of rescuing the 29 :**: miners..

by Peter Petterson

A second explosion shortly before 3pm this afternoon has destroyed even the remotest chance of rescuing the 29 trapped miners at the Pike River coalmine just outside of Greymouth on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island.

There are fears at present that they may never be able to even recover the twenty nine bodies of the dead miners - because there is now no possibility that they could have survived this second explosion, if indeed they survived the initial explosion in the mine last Friday afternoon, New Zealand time.

New Zealand had received help from Australian and American mine safety experts. Robots had been flown in from both countries - they were to take over from the two NZ defence force robots which had proven inadequate. Australian safety experts had been at Greymouth since Saturday. The spirit of Anzac was evident on the West Coast during the last few days. You might say it was reciprocal help for the assistance given by Kiwi firefighters to their Aussie counterparts during the horrific bushfires in Victoria a couple of years ago. It was much appreciated!

The families of the Kiwi miners were totally shattered by the outcome. The CEO of the Pike River coal company, Peter Whittle, proved a tower of strength and a great leader during the last few days. The police commander came under intense criticism for not sending searchers into the mine; advice suggested the possibility of another explosion. The Government organised the necessary support and resources, with government ministers and the PM,John Key, on site during the last few days. They were vindicated for their actions this afternoon. The outcome was not what everybody hoped for, but it was always a distinct possibility. The poisonous gases in the mine included methane, ethane and carbon monoxide. the latter may well have killed the miners days ago

Firstly, there will be families from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa coming together for a final farewell to their kinfolk - sons, fathers, brothers, husbands and partners. There may well be no bodies to bury. They could well be interred in the Pike River mine indefinately, or eternally. It could well become their collective tomb. Only time will tell.

There will be decisions made about the future of the Pike River company; will a replacement mine be established there? A number of enquiries will also have to be made, including a NZ Government Commission of Enquiry in a few months
The coal remains underground, and a much needed industry must continue in the district; about 300 people are employed directly or indirectly in the coal industry there. There is also a state owned Solid Energy mine on the West Coast. The latter has has been idle in recent days as they have supplied much needed assistance to Pike River.

A number of negative claims made about the Pike River mine will have to be discussed during the enquiries. It is the worst coal industry accident since the Strongman mine tragedy of a few decades ago. It is New Zealand's worst domestic loss of life since the Air New Zealand crash in Antarctica back in the 1970's. The Christchurch earthquake a few months ago will cost over 4.5 million dollars in insurance and rebuilding, but there was no direct loss of life through accidental death.

There will be many stories written in coming days, weeks, months and years, but this is the way I saw it today.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, November 22, 2010

West Coast, New Zealand somewhere north of Gre...Image via Wikipedia
Today 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!
Enhanced by Zemanta