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It was originally predicted to take several days before the mine was safe enough for rescuers to enter,     as the gases inside were feared to be explosive. Initial testing at the mine ventilation shaft was hindered by heavy clouds, preventing helicopter access, and staff were going to have to walk in over rough terrain, as the shaft does not have road access. Seismic equipment was attached to tubes at the tunnel mouth to detect movement in the mine.
With tests still not giving clearance for rescuers to enter the mine, an attempt was made to enter the mine using a bomb disposal robot provided by the New Zealand Defence Force NZDF.
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Sources noted that while the robot was capable of operating in rain, it had "effectively [been] hit by a waterfall", short-circuiting it. This robot had been fitted with extra batteries and other equipment to try to avoid the problems which hit the first robot. It was later deployed,   and the first robot was later restarted. Early on 24 November it was reported that a drill started from above the horizontal mine  had reached to the mine chamber, releasing hot gas.
A welfare centre was set up at the Red Cross Hall in Greymouth for the families of the trapped men. Police encouraged families to use this centre rather than trying to reach the mine's access road, which was closed to everyone except emergency services. Both the Australian and New Zealand stock exchanges placed trading halts on Pike River Coal PRC shares following the first explosion to allow the company time to "provide the market with a detailed update.
On 2 December, when New Zealand held a nationwide moment of silence , including at the stock exchange, PRC's suspension was inadvertently allowed to end and about , share trades were later invalidated. The first explosion was classified as a "highly, highly irregular event", and the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key immediately announced the government would hold an inquiry into its cause. In addition, the police and the coroner would conduct investigations — as required by law — as would the Department of Labour. A number of countries worldwide expressed their condolences, including the United Kingdom , Australia  where the Australian Parliament observed a moment's silence and flags were flown at half mast, in conjunction with New Zealand , and the United States.
On 10 December , Police Commissioner Howard Broad said that the police intended to hand control of the recovery operation at the mine to the company.
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Responsibility for securing the mine would be left with the receivers of Pike River Coal. On 14 January , the police announced that the mine had been sealed as it was too dangerous to continue efforts to retrieve the bodies of the missing miners and contractors. The plan did not include recovery of the bodies of the deceased miners. During inspection and recovery attempts, several robotic vehicles have been sent into the mine, but all four failed within the mine, for reasons such as water ingress into their electronics, or getting stuck.
In February a panel of experts, including representatives from Solid Energy , the government and families of the deceased, met to discuss whether retrieval of the bodies would be possible if they had the necessary funding. The 29 men ranged in age from 17 to Dunbar had been due to start work at the mine on 22 November but had convinced management to allow him to start on the 19th. The New Zealand Warriors and Newcastle Knights opened their season schedule with a charity match to raise money for the West Coast region.
These were later auctioned off to raise money for the Pike River mining relief fund. On 17 March , after attending a national memorial service for the earthquake in Christchurch , Prince William visited Greymouth and met families affected by the disaster. On 27 June , The Australian featured an article titled "Miners doomed by fatal flaws" which alleged that Peter Whittall had not ensured the Pike River Mine had installed safety measures common in Australia, but not legally required in New Zealand.
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The possible safety measures not used in the Pike River Mine were; a "tube bundle" gas monitoring system, stocks of food and water, breathing apparatus, and a second escape route. Whittall has consistently maintained that safety standards were high. A former mine supervisor alleged that miners continued to work when the methane gas concentrations exceeded the threshold of 2 per cent. It is also alleged that the miners routinely blew compressed air over the methane alarms to prevent them from triggering. Several commentators criticised successive National and Labour Party governments for deregulating safety in the mining sector and some also argued that the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union EPMU , which had several members at Pike River, did not do enough to prevent the tragedy.
The Blackball Museum of Working Class History includes a memorial wheel dedicated to those who have died at work in New Zealand, with a special section for the miners who died in the Pike River Mine disaster. It was the site of a memorial service to mark the fourth anniversary of the event; wreaths were laid and a choir performed a piece dedicated to the victims.
The former directors John Dow, Ray Meyer, Stuart Nattrass and former chief executive Peter Whittall rejected accusations of running an unsafe mine and said they disagreed with the Royal Commission's conclusion that the directors had not acted properly over health and safety at the mine. Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn blamed the mine managers. On 12 December , the Government released a plan to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission. In November , the Police and the Department of Labour began investigating the accident for grounds for prosecution.
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On 31 July , the contracting company Valley Longwall International pleaded guilty in the Greymouth District Court to three health and safety charges. The receivers for Pike River Coal Limited advised that the company would not enter a plea to the charges. Instead, Whittall and Pike River Coal offered a voluntary payment on behalf of the directors and officers of the company to the families of the men and two survivors.
Prosecutors claimed there was a lack of evidence against Whittall. The disaster has led to calls for New Zealand to introduce a crime of corporate manslaughter , and Labour leader Andrew Little has a bill in the members' ballot that would introduce a new crime modelled on the United Kingdom's Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act. Some criminal law experts believe,. Corporate manslaughter ought to be considered, together with other regulatory mechanisms, as means of better protecting employees and members of the public from corporate negligence and unsafe practies".
After an agreement was signed between New Zealand's major political parties in Wellington on 15 August , soon-to-be Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged that a manned re-entry of the mine would be conducted with the object of recovering bodies and investigating the cause of the explosion. Meanwhile, preparations for a robotic entry later in the year continued. On 20 November , Minister for Pike Mine Re-entry Andrew Little announced the creation of a stand-alone government department called the Pike River Recovery Agency to explore plans to re-enter the mine and recover the bodies of the deceased miners.
On 31 January , the Pike River Recovery Agency formally came into existence with its headquarters being in Greymouth. He vowed that the coalition Government would re-enter the drift to recover evidence and the remains of the deceased miners. On 21 May , a mine recovery team led by Pike River Recovery Agency chief operating officer Dinghy Pattinson re-entered the mine for the first time since , breaking the concrete seal to the mine drift. Body recovery and forensic operations are expected to take several months. The mine re-entry was marked by family members releasing 29 yellow balloons and calling out the names of those who died.
The first team of miners will re-enter to assess hazards and to establish infrastructure for supporting the roofs and sides of the drift. A second forensically-focused mining team will then enter the mine to examine and remove any evidential material. A third team will providing mining services including gas monitoring, communications lines and ventilation bags. Once completed, the site is expected to be refurbished and handed back to the Department of Conservation.
On 10 June , Minister for Pike Mine Re-entry Andrew Little announced that it was "impractical" to expect the remains of the fallen miners to be recovered. Instead, recovery efforts would focus on gathering evidence for the homicide case.
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Pike River Mine disaster. See also: Economic aftermath of the Pike River Mine disaster.
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Retrieved 29 November Retrieved 28 November The Press. Retrieved 20 November Archived from the original on 11 February Retrieved 24 November The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 November Archived from the original on 24 July New Zealand Herald. Final Report. Wellington, New Zealand. The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 29 September Retrieved 3 November Archived from the original on 12 January Retrieved 21 November BBC News. Retrieved 25 November The Courier Mail. Retrieved 4 August Press Release 28 November — New Zealand Police. One News. ABC News. Anderson v.
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