On behalf of all New Zealand Police staff, I'd like to say how extremely sad we are at the turn of events in the Pike River mine.
We have felt so much for the families and friends of the 29 men over the past few days as they endured the anguishing wait for news.
Understandably given their huge loss, there was some anger at the decision not to send in rescue teams. This was a most natural human reaction in the face of those awful circumstances.
I hope in time it will provide some comfort for the families to know that Police and the team of national and international experts who contributed advice did everything that was humanly possible to bring the men home. Sadly the environment in the mine was just too volatile.
I totally support Superintendent Gary Knowles and the decision-making processes that he and his team followed. They held their nerve and maintained their professional objectivity under intense pressure - the like of which I've not seen in my entire police career.
Professional endorsement for the approach taken can be found in the mine rescue people who are alive to go home to their families.
The operation has now moved from its rescue phase into considering how to make the mine safe enough to recover the 29 men. The recovery phase will be led by Inspector Mark Harrison. Superintendent Gary Knowles remains in charge of the overall operation.
The recovery phase will be complex and extremely challenging as well. As we work through this process, the families will be at the forefront of our minds. The next days, weeks and months are going to be extremely hard as they try and deal with what's happened and our thoughts are with them.