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NZ miners’ bodies will never be found

on 11/01/2019

New Zealand police have called off their attempt to retrieve the bodies of 29 miners killed in the Pike River mine, after expert advice that the likelihood of getting into the mine safely is “unlikely”.

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NZ Police Commissioner Howard Broad said the mine, near Greymouth on the South Island, would instead be handed back to the receivers of the Pike River Coal mine company.

Broad made the announcement after earlier meeting the families and telling them of the decision.

The families’ responses to the decision had been mixed, Broad said.

“I came here before Christmas and then I said that access to the mine to recover the remains of the men was desirable but not legally essential given advice I had received from the coroner,” he said on Thursday night.

“I reiterated that we would do our level best to achieve recovery of the men but not through the means of putting additional lives at risk in terms of anyone else re-entering the mine.”

Experts from New Zealand and Australia had advised him that the likelihood of getting into the mine safely was “unrealistic” and police were therefore handing the operation back to the receivers, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

It would be up to them whether they tried to recover the men’s bodies when the mine eventually settled, or whether they “simply put a fence around it and walk away”.

The 29 miners, including two Australians, became trapped in the underground mine after an explosion on November 19 last year, which was followed by a series of blasts.

The Australians who died were William Joynson, 49, and father-to-be Joshua Ufer, 25, both from Queensland.


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