wiki globe

Posts Tagged ‘NZealand’

‘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.

d
Source: SGGP

29 miners believed dead after second NZealand blast

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2010 at 6:19 am

 All 29 men missing in a New Zealand mine were presumed dead Wednesday after a “horrific” second blast tore through the colliery, 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 and prompting anguished scenes as distraught relatives wept, shouted and collapsed to the floor.


“There was another explosion at the mine. It was extremely severe,” superintendent Gary Knowles told reporters.


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


The entrance to the Pike River Coal mine in New Zealand.

Knowles said the explosion, whose cause was unknown, ripped through the Pike River coal mine at 2:37 pm (0137 GMT) on Wednesday, five days after the initial blast trapped the 29 men including two Australians and two Britons.


The victims of the blasts ranged from a 17-year-old on his first shift to a 62-year-old veteran.


High levels of toxic and combustible gases had stopped rescuers entering the mine in a remote area of New Zealand’s South Island.


“I was at the mine myself when this actually occurred and the blast was horrific, just as severe as the first blast and we’re currently now moving into recovery phase,” Knowles said.


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.


“It’s unbelievable. This is the West Coast’s darkest hour. It doesn’t get worse than this,” Kokshoorn said.


He added that grief-stricken families, who have suffered an agonising five-day wait for a rescue that never came, were angry that the dangerous gases had been allowed to build up again.


“They don’t know what to do. They just sobbed openly, just fell to the floor. There were people just shouting out, anger,” Kokshoorn said.


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


Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee announced a series of inquiries aimed at finding out the cause of the mine disaster and preventing any repeat.


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 New Zealand’s North Island.


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


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

Source: SGGP

‘Every chance’ missing NZealand miners alive, says PM

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:08 am

NZealand rescue possible, but needs to be quick: experts

In Uncategorized on November 22, 2010 at 10:04 am

Explosion at NZealand mine, 25-30 miners missing

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