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Posts Tagged ‘mine’

‘Gag unit’ to try to make NZealand death mine safe

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2010 at 11:21 am

GREYMOUTH, New Zealand, Nov 26, 2010 (AFP) – A specialist machine arrived in New Zealand Friday to aid the grim task of reaching the bodies of 29 men killed in the nation’s worst mining disaster for almost a century, police said.


Authorities hope it will speed up the recovery of corpses from the Pike River mine, which remains flooded with toxic gases following a tragedy that plunged New Zealand into mourning.

This frame grab from New Zealand’s TV3 News shows a jet engine called “The Gag” arriving on the back of a truck at the Pike River Coal mine on November 26, 2010. AFP

The Australian device, known as a “gag unit”, would use water vapour and gases to purge oxygen from the mine and ensure there would be no repeat of the two explosions that rocked it over the past week, the machine’s operators said.


“It displaces explosive gases or methane gases, extinguishes any fires and suppresses any sparking or sources of ignition,” Queensland Mines Rescue Service manager Wayne Hartley told TNVZ Friday.


Prime Minister John Key has warned that it could take months to reach bodies entombed in the mine, preventing grieving families from properly bidding farewell to their loved ones.


The relatives’ slim hopes of a miracle rescue following an explosion at the mine last Friday were dashed by an even bigger blast on Wednesday that authorities said no one could survive.


The “gag unit” machine could not have been used while there was a faint chance some of the men remained alive in the mine shaft at Pike River, on the remote west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.


Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn said recovering the victims — 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and a South African — was an essential part of bringing closure to distraught relatives.


“We want the miners out of the mines and into the loving arms of the families,” he said Friday.


Police confirmed the machine, which incorporates a specialist jet engine, had arrived at Hokitika airport, near the mine, but said it was unclear how long it would take to assemble and deploy to make the mine safe for retrieval teams.


A cocktail of explosive gases prevented rescuers from going into the colliery, which sent its first shipment of hard coking coal for steelmaking to India only this year.


Pike River Coal executives were scheduled to meet Friday to discuss the future of the mine, with the company’s chief executive Peter Whittall and local politicians pushing for it to reopen once rendered safe.


“It’s not like the mine was a big scary place that was waiting to kill them,” Whittall told reporters. “The mine was where we worked, it was where we went to every day, we understood it.”


Key has vowed “no stone would be left unturned” in finding why the 29 men perished and stringent safety mine standards went “terribly wrong”.


Condolence messages have poured in from around the world for the victims, who ranged from a 17-year-old on his first shift to a 62-year-old veteran.


Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II — who is also the head of state of New Zealand — and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were among the dignitaries who expressed sorrow over the tragedy.


Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said hopes for a repeat of a dramatic rescue in her own country at Tasmania’s Beaconsfield mine in 2006 and last month’s retrieval of 33 Chilean miners had been dashed.


“After Beaconsfield, then Chile this year, I suppose in some part of our minds we were always hoping, always thinking that there’s going to be a happy ending. Unfortunately, and tragically, there wasn’t,” she said.

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Source: SGGP

‘National tragedy’ as 29 perish in N.Z. mine disaster

In Uncategorized on November 25, 2010 at 1:20 am

GREYMOUTH, New Zealand, Nov 24, 2010 (AFP) – All 29 men missing in a New Zealand coal mine have died after a powerful second blast tore through the pit, authorities said Wednesday, plunging the country into mourning.


Police said there was now no chance of finding anyone alive, confirming the country’s worst mining accident in nearly a century. Prime Minister John Key called it a “national tragedy” and said flags would fly at half-mast.


“Where this morning we held on to hope, we must now make way for sorrow,” Key said. “Today, all New Zealanders grieve for these men. We are a nation in mourning.”


Police Superintendent Gary Knowles, who led stuttering rescue efforts, said he was at the mountainside Pike River mine when the sickening second explosion hit at 2:37 pm (0137 GMT), five days after Friday’s initial blast.


“There was another explosion at the mine. It was extremely severe,” he said.


“Based on expert evidence I have been given… it is our belief that no one has survived and everyone has perished.”

Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall (R) reacts during a press conference on the rescue operations for the 29 coal miners trapped underground after an explosion at the Pike River Coal mine on November 24, 2010. AFP

The news prompted anguish and anger among relatives, who had suffered an agonising wait for a rescue that never came as toxic gases stopped emergency teams from entering the mine in New Zealand’s South Island.


In the grief-stricken town of Greymouth, home to many of the miners, builder Mike Curtis said locals were united in believing that rescuers should have gone in “straight away — all the old-timers knew that”.


The victims of the blasts ranged from a 17-year-old on his first shift to a 62-year-old veteran, and include two Australians, two Britons and a South African.


District mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the incident was the “darkest hour” of New Zealand’s rugged West Coast region, a centre of the country’s burgeoning mining industry based on exports to Asia.


The mine is a new facility that sent its first shipment of hard coking coal for making steel to India only this year.


“It’s unbelievable. It doesn’t get worse than this,” Kokshoorn said, adding that devastated relatives were questioning why a rescue was not attempted sooner.


“They just sobbed openly, just fell to the floor. There were people just shouting out, anger,” he said.


“The cause (of the second explosion) was the build-up over the last five days of the gases again and they noticed this morning. A lethal mixture ignited the entire mine.”


Stop-start rescue efforts had earlier inched forward when a bore hole into the mine finally broke through, but found only a toxic cocktail of dangerous gases with little oxygen.


A remote-controlled robot — the second such device after a first one broke down — also travelled about a kilometre (two-thirds of mile) into the mine and found the helmet of one of the only two survivors, its headlight still on.


But rescue efforts were dramatically ended when the second blast ripped through the gas-filled network of tunnels.


Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said efforts would be made to recover the bodies of those killed. He said a series of inquiries aimed at finding out the cause of the disaster and preventing any repeat would be carried out.


New Zealand lost 19 miners in 1967 but the last accident on this scale was in 1914, when 43 died in a gas explosion at a mine in Huntly on the North Island.


Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who is also the head of state of New Zealand, a former British colony, said she was “deeply saddened” by the deaths.


“My heart goes out to the families and friends of these 29 brave miners and to all who have been touched by this national disaster,” she said in a message to Key released by Buckingham Palace.


“I send my thanks and deep appreciation to everyone who has worked so hard to attempt a rescue and also to those who will have a part to play in the task of healing the pain that is being felt throughout New Zealand and around the world.”


Julia Gillard, prime minister of Australia, which sent experts and equipment for the rescue effort, said: “Our hearts go out to them and on behalf of the Australian people I give the condolences of this nation.”


An emotional Peter Whittall, chief executive of Pike River Coal, said he personally broke the news to the miners’ relatives.


“They had looked to me for hope and to keep them informed of what was going on,” he said. “This takes us to the point where I’m unlikely to see my workmates again and unlikely to seen them walk out of that mine.”


Whittall said emergency crews would remain at the mine, monitoring for when gas levels drop to a level that allows the grim task of retrieving the bodies.


“We want our boys back,” he said.

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Source: SGGP

N.Zealand mine rescuers release CCTV footage of blast

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 4:51 am

GREYMOUTH, New Zealand, Nov 23, 2010 (AFP) – New Zealand rescuers on Tuesday released CCTV footage of an underground blast which trapped 29 miners last week, showing a powerful and sustained explosion.


The security video, which was shown to the miners’ relatives and the media, showed white powder shooting out of the shaft’s entrance for some 52 seconds before subsiding, as the camera shook.

Family and friends of the 29 coal miners trapped underground after the November 19 explosion near the New Zealand town of Greymouth comfort one another as they leave a briefing from the management of Pike River Coal in Greymouth on November 23, 2010. AFP

Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall said the video’s release was intended to show the dangers of sending a rescue team into the mine after Friday’s blast.


“It was a graphic representation of how dangerous it was to re-enter the mine,” Whittall said.


Relatives have grown increasingly frustrated with rescue efforts, which have been stalled by a cocktail of toxic gases, making it impossible to send a search team into the mine.


On Tuesday, a converted army bomb-disposal robot broke down just 500 metres (yards) into the facility, while an exploratory bore-hole into the mine was delayed when drillers hit hard rock.


“There’s a certain amount of anger right now,” Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn told AFP earlier. “We’ve had a kick in the guts, the robot went in the tunnel, it got water in it and short-circuited, it’s history.


“It’s terrible. We’re going into the fifth day and we’re hearing this type of thing,” he added.

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Source: SGGP

Poison gas fears stall New Zealand mine rescue

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Australia offers help to NZ after mine blast

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2010 at 6:13 am

Explosion at NZealand mine, 25-30 miners missing

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2010 at 5:56 am

Twelve killed in China coal mine flood: media

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2010 at 7:10 am

Twelve workers were killed and one injured in a flood in a coal mine in southwest China’s Guizhou province, state media said Thursday.

A Chinese miner unloads coal from a train in eastern China’s Anhui province.

The brief report by the Xinhua news agency did not provide further details of the accident, the latest to strike the country’s notoriously dangerous mining sector.


More than 2,600 miners were killed in job-related accidents last year, according to official data — or about seven people a day. Independent labour groups say the actual number of deaths is probably much higher.

Source: SGGP

World is captive audience for Chile mine rescue

In Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm

A captive global audience looked on as the first of 33 miners trapped for a record 68 days deep underground emerged Wednesday into the cold night air of Chile’s Atacama desert.

Chilean miner Florencio Avalos (L) is embraced by Chilean President Sebastian Piñera after been brought to the surface on October 13, 2010 following a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine, near Copiapo, 800 km north of Santiago, Chile.

People logged on and tuned in to read, watch and listen as Florencio Avalos was extracted safe and sound from 600 meters (2,000 feet) below ground at 0311 GMT, followed exactly one hour later by co-worker Mario Sepulveda.


Media outlets around the world including CNN International, Britain’s Sky News, France’s iTele and BFM and also Europe-wide Euronews live-streamed the drama as it unfolded in real time.


As well as cameras trained on the surface, viewers also saw grainy pictures of the miners still awaiting rescue in the their deep underground shelter.


The workers’ families had all but given up hope of seeing their loved ones again when on August 22 — 17 days after the collapse at the San Jose mine — a note tied to a drill probe announced their sensational survival to the world.


Millions, struggling to comprehend the nightmarish existence of the trapped men and the anguish of their families, have followed the long rescue efforts since as a shaft wide enough to extract the miners was drilled.


Wellwishers from around the globe, ranging from fellow miners to exalted heads of state, watched minute-by-minute overnight as a missile shaped capsule bearing Chile’s national colors was winched into the mine.


A measure of how the epic survival tale has ballooned into a global human interest story, live images from the site were broadcast to viewers as far afield as New York and Sydney, London and Tokyo.


The BBC streamed footage of the operation alongside a scrolling sidebar of mini-bites of information emerging from the crowd of relatives and Chilean politicians waiting to receive the miners-turned-national heroes.


Many outlets also employed counter graphics as the miners were brought out one-by-one.


Japan’s major television networks offered live coverage, complete with profiles of the 32 Chileans and one Bolivian, who survived their first 17 days before making contact with rescuers by rationing emergency supplies.


Japanese doctors discussed various medical complications the men could suffer, while Australian news stations, websites and radio bulletins devoted non-stop coverage to the dramatic operation.


“It was supposed to be a day off for me, and I was planning to catch up on my reading,” high school English teacher Tetsuro Umeji in Kudamatsu City, Japan, wrote on the BBC live feed.


“But now my eyes are glued to the computer screen as the rescue is broadcast live. Absolutely amazing! Congratulations, Chile! I will keep my fingers crossed until the last of the 33 miners is brought to the surface!”


Chile’s embassy in Washington DC set up a public live video feed of the rescue operation, which saw the men emerge one-by-one and reunite with relatives before being flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital.


In Europe, meanwhile, Austrian television had a special news program dedicated to the rescue — a rare occurrence for foreign events — and in the Netherlands the second-largest daily newspaper AD ran its first three pages dedicated to the event.


In the Spanish-speaking world, the rescue bid dominated news stations and websites.


Spanish-language station Univision ran live video of the site, while Chile’s La Tercera newspaper website carried a graphic header with empty boxes to be filled in as each miner emerged safe, and two counters tallying “rescued miners” and “miners in hospital.”


The interest appeared to overwhelm authorities managing media at the mine site. They ran out of international media badges and began issuing hand-labeled IDs to reporters arriving from as far afield as China and Turkey.


China’s Xinhua news agency and state television were reporting from the ground, and popular news portals Sohu and Sina set up special sections on their front pages featuring details on the rescue effort.


Throughout Asia, whether in Singapore, South Korea, Thailand or Vietnam, citizens were greeted with the exciting news that the first miners were out.


China’s CCTV streamed the first two rescues live, and South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo splashed the headline: “Today, Chile will be jubilant.”


Al-Jazeera’s English language station had a correspondent stationed at the site updating a Twitter feed with the latest information.


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also took to the micro-blogging site to send his best wishes to the rescue crews and the miners. “We are with Chile! God be with you,” he wrote.

Source: SGGP

Three dead in Quang Ninh coal mine collapse

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2010 at 11:21 am

The entrance of the cola mine which collapsed August 13 killing three workers and injured the other (Photo: Tien Phong Newspaper)

Three workers found dead and one alive after a coal mine, where they were working at a depth of over 100 meters under the ground, collapsed in Cam Pha town of the northern province of Quang Ninh on August 13 night.


At 2pm on August 14, rescue forces found and took the four trapped men out of the mine. Only Viet has fortunately escaped the death as a steel net covered his body, creating an empty space for him to breathe amid the huge heap of soil and stones.


The accident occurred at the coal mine of Mong Duong Coal Company. The four victims include deputy foreman Nguyen Thanh Binh, 38, and three workers Ngo Van Dau, 27, Nguyen Van Doan, 25, and Nguyen Van Viet, 22.

Source: SGGP

China gold mine fire kills 16 workers

In Uncategorized on August 7, 2010 at 11:22 am

BEIJING, Aug 7, 2010 (AFP) – Sixteen workers died when a fire broke out in a gold mine in east China, state media reported Saturday, in the latest accident to hit the nation’s dangerous mining sector this week.


Most of the victims died of toxic smoke inhalation underground or in hospital after the accident, which happened on Friday in Shandong province’s Zhaoyuan city, the official Xinhua news agency said.


More than 300 miners had been working underground when the blaze started and most were lifted to ground level safely, but about 50 were left trapped, a spokesman for the rescue headquarters was quoted as saying.


Rescuers then gradually managed to pull more workers out until the last seven were rescued earlier Saturday.


Dozens of injured miners were sent to nearby hospitals, and most of these did not have life-threatening conditions, doctors were quoted as saying.


“We smelt a pungent odour and suspected something might have gone wrong. We closed the vents and waited to be rescued,” said Lu Ming, one of the miners being treated in hospital, according to Xinhua.


The work safety bureaus in Zhaoyuan and Shandong refused to comment on the accident when contacted by AFP, and calls to the city and provincial governments went unanswered.


According to an initial investigation, the blaze broke out in a shaft at the gold mine when an electric cable caught fire. The mine was fully licensed but police have taken the director in for questioning, Xinhua said.


Meanwhile, a gas outburst at a coal mine in the southwestern province of Sichuan on Saturday trapped six miners underground, the report said, in yet another accident in the sector.

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Source: SGGP