Pike River mine explosion kills 29 on the West Coast…

Original post: Hutts Wonderful World

NZ South Island coal mine fatal explosions. Victims never exhumed.

Flames burst from a ventilation shaft at the Pike River mine (Iain McGregor/Getty Images)

The Pike River underground coal mine is high in the rugged Paparoa Range, on the West Coast of the South Island. The only access to the mine workings was through a 2.3-km-long tunnel that intersected with the Brunner coal seam.

At 3.45 p.m. on Friday 19 November 2010, the mine exploded. Twenty-nine men underground died immediately or shortly afterwards from the blast or because of the toxic atmosphere this generated. Two men in the tunnel, some distance from the mine workings, managed to escape. Over the next nine days the mine exploded three more times before it was sealed.

In 2014 the National-led government accepted a decision by Solid Energy, the new owners of the mine, that ‘potentially fatal risk factors’ made it too dangerous to re-enter the mine to attempt to recover the bodies. The Labour-led government which took office in 2017 reversed this decision. In mid-2019 the Pike River Recovery Agency expected to ‘recover the tunnel’ in 2020.

This was the ninth major explosion in a New Zealand underground coal mine, in which a total of 211 men have lost their lives. All the deaths resulted from the explosion of the methane gas which is constantly given off by coal, or through asphyxiation by carbon monoxide and other gases formed after a fire or explosion.

As with most coal mine disasters, the Pike River tragedy would not have happened if established safety procedures had been followed. The mine was new, and the owner, Pike River Coal Ltd, had not completed the systems and infrastructure needed to produce coal safely. The company had borrowed heavily and with great pressure to get mining under way, numerous warnings of potentially hazardous methane levels were not heeded. The safety inspectors employed by the Department of Labour relied on reports by the company that all safety requirements were being complied with.

The resulting Commission of Inquiry was highly critical of the company’s management as well as of the lack of safety inspections. One of its major recommendations was that the government should set up an independent organisation with specific responsibility for workplace safety. This recommendation was accepted, and Worksafe New Zealand now has statutory responsibility for all safety issues in the workplace, with a designated High Hazards Unit covering industries such as coal mining and oil exploration.

By Simon Nathan

Read more on NZHistory

New Zealand disasters timeline – New Zealand disasters timelineThe dangers of coal – roadside stories – New Zealand disasters timelinePike River mine disaster – Pike River mine disaster

The Great Walks of New Zealand

Clinton valley from Mackinnon Pass - Milford Track guided walk

Great Walks of New Zealand

The Milford and Routeburn Tracks are two of the nine Great Walks.

The Great Walks are scattered across the North and South Islands, from the Tongariro Crossing and Lake Waikaremoana in the middle of the North Island right down to the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island at the bottom of the South Island.

The Great Walks are scattered across the North and South Islands of New Zealand, from the Tongariro Crossing and Lake Waikaremoana in the middle of the North Island right down to the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island at the bottom of the South Island. Each of the nine Great Walks has it’s own unique character and all are worth exploring.

 Ultimate Hikes is the only operator of multi-day guided walks on two of the most iconic Great Walks; the Milford Trackand Routeburn Tracks.  We provide all of the logistical and comfortable details – all you need to do is turn up in Queenstown with your personal belongings and we’ll take care of the rest!

 Hike through the stunning scenery of the famous Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Parks, and in the evenings relax after a hot shower, in our comfortable private lodges, and enjoy a three-course dinner while your clothes are drying ready for the next day’s hike!  And why not enjoy a beer or a glass of wine while chatting with your new friends and walking companions without the distraction of modern electronic devices.

Warm beds, friendly staff, safety conscious guides and abundant birdlife, in some of the most remote landscapes in New Zealand – a Guided Walk is more than just a Great Walk – it’s a real New Zealand outdoor adventure.

 Most of the Great Walks are situated in New Zealand’s National Parks, and the tracks maintained by the Department of Conservation, who also operate huts in the parks for visitors to stay in during multi-day tramps.  These huts should generally be booked in advance and trampers or hikers should bring all provisions in with them. Ultimate Hikes operates our own private lodges on the Milford and Routeburn Tracks.

Whether you decide to walk with Ultimate Hikes or independently, staying in the Doc Huts, you will not miss out on any of the spectacular scenery.

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Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #108 – Sanctuary

John's Space .....

[Categories: Photography, Photography 101 Forever]

[A right-click might allow you to open a photo in a separate tab or window.]

The Lens-Artists Challenge is hosted this week by Xenia.

There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to
In my room, in my room
In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears
In my room, in my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming
Lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing
Laugh at yesterday

Now it’s dark and I’m alone
But I won’t be afraid
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room
In my room, in my room

–In My Room by The Beach Boys, written by Brian Wilson and Gary Usher

SANCTUARY! Or should that be a whispered word, like


Those of us fortunate to have a room have spent a lot…

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