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The Pike River Mine Disaster

The Pike River coal mine is located near Greymouth, on the West coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

At 3:44pm on Friday November 19, 2010, an explosion occurred, trapping 29 miners some 1500m (4900ft) from the mine’s entrance.  Two other miners managed to escape with moderate injuries.

The rescue effort was delayed because of high levels of toxic methane gas flooding the tunnels, caused by a rupture in the mine’s gas drainage line.

At 2:37pm on Wednesday, November 24, any hope of rescue was all but extinguished when a second massive explosion occurred, more violent than the first.  It lasted for over half a minute and blasted dirt and debris from the 2km-long tunnel entrance.  Those who witnessed the explosion said that no one could have survived it, and the 29 miners were pronounced dead.

There was a lot of anger in the community when this news was first announced, as families believed that a window of opportunity to rescue the miners had been lost.  However, it was confirmed that the toxicity levels, as well as the chance of further explosions in the mine, were very high from the beginning, and that no rescue attempt could have been safely carried out.

At approximately 3:39pm on Friday November 26, a third explosion occurred. This one was judged to have been smaller than the first two.  It happened just as the community was preparing to hold a minute's silence to mark one week since the first explosion.

News Reports:

November 19, 2010 (Telegraph):

November 22, 2010 (The Press):

November 24, 2010 at 3:07pm, 47 minutes before the second explosion (

November 24, 2010: Hopes Dashed (ABC 7:30 Report):

November 25, 2010: National Memorial for Pike River Miners (The Dominion Post):

November 26, 2010 (ABC News PM):