A symbolic opening of the Pike River mine occurred this morning as the Pike River families watched members of the Pike River Recovery Agency (PRRA) enter the mine drift.
The PRRA earlier today tweeted “Re-entry has happened! Dinghy, Kirk and Chris opened the doors and went inside, checked the drift condition, and then came back to a big cheer from the families.”
Today’s re-entry is a “symbolic moment” for the Pike River families of the 29 miners who perished in the disaster in 2010.
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In today’s private event, the families watched as three experienced miners breached the first concrete mine seal in the portal.
Some favourite moments from today: Agency planning officer Karl Maddaford hugging Anna Osborne; steam coming off the loader carrying the last piece of concrete from the 30m seal; the team stepping through the second airlock door; and the families hearing about re-entry pic.twitter.com/6nutqyHo61
— Pike River Recovery Agency (@PikeRecovery) May 21, 2019
Families spokesperson, Sonya Rockhouse told New Zealand’s ‘The AM Show’ it was a big moment. “Pulling that plug out is like pulling the cork out of a bottle and releasing whatever… and it’s just the beginning of the end of a journey for us.”
Sonya Rockhouse said she is hopeful that the opening of the mine could find further evidence that was not examined by the Royal Commission into the disaster.
“There’s an electrical… box, a memory card and a camera which will hold a lot of information about possibly what happened, but also there might be other bits of evidence, too, including possibly some body parts.
“It’s one of those things we just don’t know and that’s the thing, there are 500 metres of the drift that hasn’t been explored and so we need to go up there and see what’s up there.”
The Pike River Recovery Agency will spend more than $36M NZD to complete the recovery operation. It’s been a long time coming for the families of the 29 miners that perished in the 2010 disaster. It is one moment that will go down in the annals of mining history.
Over the next few months, the PRRA will advance along the 2.3km drift gathering evidence in a methodical manner in order to seek answers for the Pike River families. The workings of the mine will not be re-entered by personnel due to inherent safety issues.
The entry has gone ahead despite the findings of a Royal Commission that found that the mine workers most likely died following the initial blasts.
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