30 Apr 2011

Pike River mine not yet ready to enter - receiver

8:19 am on 30 April 2011

The receiver for Pike River Coal says it will be at least three weeks before the next step can be taken towards entering the mine where 29 mine workers and contractors died in November 2010.

Calls for a body recovery team to be sent into the mine were renewed on Thursday, after police revealed that a senior forensic pathologist believed laser scanner images from inside the mine indicated a body may be there.

John Fisk says there is still much to do before anyone can enter the mine.

That involves ensuring the mine is stable and there will not be another explosion when search and recovery teams re-enter.

Meanwhile, the father of one of the men killed in the Pike River mine says police were too hasty in releasing news of an image which appears to show a body inside the mine.

Rodney Holling, whose son Richard Holling was among those killed, says police should have waited to be certain before building up the families' hopes.

Neville Rockhouse, who lost his 21-year old son Benjamin Rockhouse in the mine, says the new information suggests there are bodies which deserve to be brought to the surface and laid to rest.

Police are seeking further expert advice about the image.

Evidence not new, says company ceo

Police on Thursday also said there were preliminary indications that a box thought to contain fire-fighting equipment appeared to be open and that two other boxes believed to contain self-rescuers are closed.

News of the open box has been seen as evidence that a number of men survived the first blast.

However Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall said the images were actually discovered in the weeks immediately following the blast.

Mr Whittall says it was not known at the time whether the box was opened before the explosions or after, and that remains the case.