Fourth explosion impacts recovery plans

Fourth explosion impacts recovery plans

National News

This afternoon there was another explosion at the Pike River Coal Mine, the fourth since November 19.

It occurred shortly before 2pm and no one was injured.

Inspector Mark Harrison, officer in charge of the recovery phase of Operation Pike, says the explosion was significant and was fuelled by methane, as the previous three have been.

"However, it literally sparked a coal fire in the mine. The fire is visible from the air above the ventilation shaft which was further damaged during the latest explosion."

A small area of vegetation near the damaged shaft caught fire but has been extinguished.

"We have all been working towards a recovery operation that would use the GAG equipment flown in from Australia," Mr Harrison said.

"The GAG had not been deployed at the mine and is well away from the portal.

"Given that there is a significant coal fire burning in the mine, all our options for recovery are being re-evaluated. We need sufficient expert advice from the mine operators and managers to be able to determine how this will impact on our operation.

"We, Pike River Coal, Red Cross, Ambulance services, Mine Rescue experts from New Zealand and Australia, the Defence Force, Fire Service and a host of other people have been working at an operation centre in administration buildings near the mine 24/7 since the first explosion on November 19.

"At times there have been up to 180 people on site working towards effecting a recovery.

"Today's explosion has caused Police to reconsider the recovery options.

"Just what the best options are now, are not clear at this stage. We rely on mining experts and the mine company for that information. As soon as we are able we will decide what the safest course of action is with regard to plans for recovery of the lost miners."

ENDS

Police media phone - 027 501 5742