Safety paramount in mine rescue operation

Safety paramount in mine rescue operation

National News

Specialist search and mine rescue staff are prepared to enter the Pike River coal mine once the air and gas levels are sufficiently clear to safely do so.

Superintendent Gary Knowles, Tasman Police District Commander and officer in charge of the West Coast rescue and recovery operation, says he's not prepared to put the lives of volunteer rescuers at risk while the gas levels remain high.

"This is a fine balancing act. We know that families and friends are anxious to hear news of their loved ones and all response personnel are totally focused on bringing their men home.

"If there's a window of opportunity to get safely into the mine then that will happen. Just when that will be I am unable to say."

Emergency services, welfare agencies and the mining company are working together to support the families of the trapped miners and contractors.

Further updates will be provided when they are available.

Ends

Media note: police media communications staff rostered for contact late Saturday and overnight are the following:

Grant Ogilvie
Police Public Affairs, PNHQ
Mobile 027236 9974 - in Greymouth

Russell Pilcher
Police Public Affairs, PNHQ
Mobile 027 437 0148 - Wellington