New Pike River mine footage and an entry plan

Families of the 29 men who died in the Pike River mine explosion accuse the government of withholding information

Footage from inside Pike River mine released last night shows there is an urgent need for answers say Pike River families.

Sonya Rockhouse who lost her son Ben in the mine explosion which claimed 29 live, says the footage raises serious questions about the government’s refusal to recover the drift and any evidence it holds.

The footage includes what appears to be glasses likely belonging to Ben.

“New Zealand has been told there’s nothing but ashes and dust down there, they’ve been told that the drift can’t be made safe to enter and investigate. That’s just not true, my boy is down there and if pallets and paper are intact then so is his body,” Ms Rockhouse says.

She accuses the government of keeping this footage from the families for six years.

If it had been released earlier entry to the drift would have already occurred  and provided the families with answers and some accountability, Ms Rockhouse says.

“Bill English has tried to keep us quiet with the promise of getting cameras into the drift, but in the five months since that promise has been made all that has happened is a couple of meetings and a vague suggestion it might happen by November. It feels like they’re more interested in making this go away until after the election than in getting answers.”

She says experts have told the families the drift can be made safe for manned entry and that that’s what’s needed to recover evidence and any remains in there.

“I want to know why the government won’t listen to them and just do this.

“Bill English needs to stop trying to hide from this. He needs to do the right thing. He needs to let our experts work with mines rescue to enter the drift and find out what happened down there. We need answers. We deserve answers.”

Mr English says the footage is not new and does not change anything.

He said the government would continue to work with families on non-manned re-entry.

Meanwhile Solid Energy says it is working on a plan to send a new modified robot into the a 150mm borehole in mine after four other robots have been abandoned inside.

However, it will take at least four months to organise.


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