Pike River Mine Police recovery program is over...
The Pike River mine and Police Commissioner Howard Broad
Pike River press conference January 13 2011:
Police Commissioner Howard Broad says the danger is too great to recover the bodies of the 29 men inside Pike River mine and announced the police operation is over.
"We dealt with the Pike River Mine by requesting a plan ... the company have provided us with a plan but it raised many questions," Broad said a media briefing this evening.
"I have since had a reply to those questions and frankly my confidence in terms of a recovery operation to bring the men out is quite low."
He said that when he had visited the area at Christmas he had said access to the mine would be "desirable but not legally essential".
He reiterated that police had said then they would do their level best "but not though putting lives at risk".
"While it is possible to argue a technical case that access to the mine is possible, it is in my idea impractical to expend much hope on that prospect."
He said he had advice from experts from Australia and New Zealand which led to his decision.
"It would be quite wrong for the police to hold out great hope that the men will be recovered.
"The assessment is that the likelihood of getting into the mine is unrealistic because it is too unsafe.
"I have decided that the recovery phase of this operation will come to a conclusion."
He said the operation will be handed back to Pike River Coal's receiver, which controls Pike River coal mine.
He has told the receiver of his decision and is waiting his reply.
"In my view, it is time to focus on the living and to respect and memorialise those who have died," Broad said.
He thanked the families for the way in which they have dealt with "this most heart-rending of tragedies and I am gratified with the response from the families".
"We are disappointed that we are not in a different state than we are here today."
He described the families' reaction to the news as a "a mixture of emotions".
"There were some extremely probing questions of the decision making process but I think they were grateful for having being briefed on this."
ONE News reporter Jack Tame spoke to families as they came out of their meeting with Broad.
He said some were clearly upset and frustrated, saying it was too early for the police to pull out.
But Families' spokesman Bernie said he could understand the police position and that the responsiblity realisically needs to be left to the receivers now
"It's about time the receivers started coming out of their closet and started helping us and helping the families."
He says it now gives the receivers a chance to put their plan in place and keep in contact with families.
Broad said police were still anticipating a situation where the mine could one day be safe enough to enter and that the mine would not need to be sealed yet.
NZ television News today