Hope remains for the 29 miners trapped in the West Coast’s Pike River coalmine.
Three days after the explosion that cut communication into the mine, rescuers have yet to enter the shaft because of high concentrations of toxic and explosive gases still in the mine.
Air tests have also confirmed that some form of combustion is still occurring inside the mine, increasing the likelihood of carbon monoxide buildup.
Rescuers and family cling to the hope that all or some of the miners have reached the safety of air pockets in the mine.
From today’s NZ Herald
At a 10am media conference, Tasman District police area commander Superintendent Gary Knowles said the names of the miners would be posted on the police website later this morning.
The trapped miners:
Conrad Adams 43, Malcolm Campbell 25, Glen Cruise 35, Alan Dixon 59,
Zen Drew 21, Christopher Duggan 31, Joseph Dunbar 17, Daniel Herg 36,
John Howell 45, David Hoggard 33, Richard Holling 41, Jacob Jonker 47,
William Johannson 49, Ricky Keane 28, Terry Kitchin 41, Samuel Mckay 41,
Michael Monk 23, Stuart Mudge 31, Kane Nieper 33, Peter O’Neil 55,
Milton Osborne 54, Brendan Palmer 27, Benjamin Rockhouse 21, Peter Roger 40, Blair Sims 28, Joshua Ufer 25, Keith Valley 62.
“It’s important we start putting putting names to the faces,” Mr Knowles said.
He said after three days without contact the situation remained “grave” but he said drilling at the site was continuing and progress was going well.
“We have also been in contact with DOC and DOC have agreed we can cut a path of 2.7km long up to the ventilation site to continue with the sampling,” he said.
He said rescuers were also looking at getting a fibre optic cable so that the site could be monitored from basecamp.
Mr Knowles said the rescue team remained on standby and were looking at what sections of the mine they could enter first.
A robot could be used to go inside the tunnel when the opportunity arose, he said.
Testing of the gas levels in the mine was being carried out every half hour.
“We remain optimistic,” Mr Knowles said. “But at the end of the day this is a search and recovery operation. We are going to go in and do our best to bring these guys to out.”
Pike River CEO Peter Whittall said the team drilling overnight had done a “phenomenal job” and had reached 100 metres of the 162 metres they needed to drill to.
“In the last 10 metres before we get to the scene we will change drilling method to ensure we don’t get any sparking,” he said.
“We have opportunities to sample gas from that point. We will have an opportunity to put laser imaging gear down the hole.
“We will also be able to put down video camera information and look at anything we are able to see in the hole.”