15 May 2011

Images from Pike River mine shown to families

12:53 pm on 15 May 2011

The families of the men who died in the Pike River disaster have been shown images of what could be two bodies inside the mine.

It has not been possible to recover the remains of the 29 men killed in a series of explosions that began in the West Coast mine last 19 November.

Two weeks ago, police revealed they had a video image that showed a shape that could be a body.

Carol Rose, the mother of killed miner Stuart Mudge, says on Wednesday they were shown that image, as well as another that could be a body.

Mrs Rose says to her, the video image clearly shows what appears to be a body, as a boot can be seen.

However, she says a scan image of what could be a second body is less definitive.

Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls says the families expressed a wish to see the images, which show a shape that could be a body near a borehole in the mine.

However, Mr Nicholls says the image is of poor quality and could be a number of things. It is in the vicinity of three safety equipment boxes, where an earlier image of what could have been a body was located.

Mr Nicholls says police have started an electronic enhancement of images from the mine, which will take a further two to three months to complete.

A lawyer for the bereaved families says the image is even fuzzier than the first image shown a few a weeks ago, but it is vital that the matter is clarified ahead of an inquiry into the disaster later this year.

Colin Smith says this makes it all the more imperative for crews to enter the mine to retrieve the bodies and gather evidence as to what happened.

Mr Smith says the safety of doing this is still being assessed and will be looked at during a meeting of all parties in the next few days, which he hopes will produce some more clarity about any possible entry.

"While clarification of the images may help the investigation, it is our understanding that under present conditions the mine is unsafe to enter," he said on Friday.