After a second blast deep inside the Pike River mine, the 29 New Zealand miners have been declared dead. There was no miracle for the hapless New Zealanders. This explosion ended any remote chance of any survivors remaining from the first blast.
According to police officials, air released from drilling into the mine, during the rescue attempt, contained high levels of carbon monoxide and methane but little oxygen.
The 29 missing men, aged between 17 and 65 were believed to have been spread throughout the mine. Camera-bearing military robots that were sent inside the mine found a miner’s helmet with its light on but no sign of life. Another unit reached a fresh-air base but found nobody there.
According to the CEO of Pike River Mines and the commanding officer from the police overseeing the rescue attempt, the explosive gases that filled the collapsed mine had made it extremely unsafe for rescue workers to enter the mine.
Prime Minister John Key said, “New Zealand is a small country — a country where we are our brother’s keeper. So to lose this many brothers at once strikes an agonizing blow.”
A little more than a month ago the world watched in awe the 32 Chilean and one Bolivian men step out of their collapsed mine in the Atacama Desert after surviving an incredible two months. This and the fact that these men were declared “Heroes” on CNN last weekend, must make today and the rest of the days to follow so difficult for the real brothers and sisters, wives, mothers and fathers of the dead New Zealand miners.
What makes me wonder is if conditions for rescue were too unsafe, it is likely the conditions to work those mines were equally unsafe. Every CEO of every mine in the world’s first and foremost responsibility should be how to build and operate a safe mine, where future profits do not outweigh the value of human life.