28 Apr 2011

Pressure on to enter mine

9:00 pm on 28 April 2011

There is growing pressure for recovery teams to go into the Pike River coal mine following a statement that an image taken from a scanner could be that of a body.


Police have confirmed that, in the opinion of a senior forensic pathologist, a video image recovered from the Pike River mine is very highly likely to be that of a fully clothed person lying face down.

Twenty-nine men died in the mine disaster last November and no one has been able to enter the mine since.

Assistant Police Commissioner Grant Nicholls says a series of videos were taken via borehole 47 in February and there was some uncertainty about the nature of an object in the mine.

"To be sure, police requested that Dr Martin Sage, a senior forensic pathologist, view the video images and make an expert opinion on one of eight images. Dr Sage indicated last week that in his view the shape is suspiciously that of a body."

Steps are now being taken, he says, to further enhance the scan images. Another possibility is getting a different type of camera from the United States to try and get better images.

The possibility that the image shows a body has renewed appeals for teams to go into the mine to check it out.

Laurie Drew, whose son Zen was killed in the disaster, says he would like to see the footage. In the meantime, he says, the families are as much in the dark as everybody else.

Mr Drew says there is even more need now for a recovery team to enter the mine and retrieve the remains of the dead men.

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn is supporting their call.

However, the receivers for Pike River say - based on the advice they are getting from an expert panel - the mine is still not safe to enter due to dangerous levels of heat and gas.