16 Jul 2011

Post-explosion call went to answer phone - mine survivor

9:41 pm on 16 July 2011

One of the two survivors of the Pike River mine explosion has confirmed the emergency number he called from inside the shaft went to an answer phone.

Daniel Rockhouse was 2km inside the mine when it exploded on 19 November, killing 29 men.

He has backed up what Green MP Kevin Hague told Parliament this week about attempts to call for help by the survivors.

Mr Rockhouse told Radio New Zealand from Australia that, after regaining consciousness following the first explosion, he found one of the mine phones and rang 555 - the number that Pike River men were told to call in an emergency.

He says the call connected to an answer phone, so he hung up and called the mine's control room.

The person who answered told him to get out.

Mr Rockhouse also says on the way out of the mine, he found a phone that had not been wired in.

No one was there to meet him when he emerged from the shaft.

Mr Rockhouse says he and fellow survivor Russell Smith had to wait at least five minutes for help to arrive.

Green MP pleased at confirmation

Kevin Hague, who is a list MP based in Greymouth, has welcomed Mr Rockhouse's confirmation of what he said in Parliament.

He says his questions in the house are to prompt the Minister of Labour to make urgent changes to mine safety standards rather than waiting for the Royal Commission, currently underway in Greymouth, to report back with its findings.

The Minister of Labour says she is not commenting on any evidence that will be presented to the Royal Commission.