Difficult News to Hear
Chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean has ruled that the 29 men killed in the Pike River mine disaster died almost immediately and had no hope of rescue. The men died when a methane explosion tore through the mine on November 19, in the country’s worst mining disaster for almost a century. For five days family members clung to the hope that the miners would be rescued, until a second explosion crushed any hope that they could have survived. Judge MacLean found that the men died “either at the immediate time of the large explosion that occurred in the mine or a very short time thereafter”. The men’s bodies are still entombed in the South Island colliery, which officials say remains too dangerous to enter. Families and friends of the dead miners packed the small Greymouth District Courthouse for the inquest, wanting to hear the formal cause of the men’s deaths. Bernie Monk, a spokesman for the families, who lost his own son in the disaster, said although they were prepared for what would be said it was still very difficult to hear. “A lot of us cried and I’m still crying inside,” Monk said.