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Castorboy

NZ Mining Disaster

The news that came out three hours ago of the death of 29 miners near Greymouth is as devastating for NZ as 9/11 was for the United States.
It is going to dominate the media for months as there are all sorts of questions about how the crisis was managed. The West Coast of the South Island is one of the main coal mining areas in the country and has a special feel in relation to the rest of NZ.
I spent ten years in the North East of England and was always aware that mining and ship building workers gave the area a strong attitude to authority whether local or national. The West Coasters I think are no different and there is a lot of anger being expressed that those in charge of the attempted rescue were too cautious in the first days. Experienced volunteers were anxious to go in to the mine but were prevented by the authorities.
Gino

NZ mining disaster

It is a sad fact that mining results in at least ten thousand deaths worldwide each year.
We will now hear about many more due to the heroic rescue in Chile.
As a boy before the war on the wireless I used to hear of many similar accidents in the UK when mining was our second biggest industry but now that is changed and the deaths are Polish and Chinese, there is little we can do only let us remember if we object to safer methods of power generation such as nuclear and windmills etc we are causing the deaths of miners.
KlaraZ

I was very sorry to hear the tragic news of the second explosion at Pike River, Castorboy. I do wonder though--this is what's being said in the UK press, so forgive me if I've got this wrong--if the rescue attempts weren't ever going to end well, since the very first explosion had proved fatal. But I don't know, of course.

I take a great interest in New Zealand news, since my trip there this year, and it seems awful to think two devastating tragedies have struck in the same year i.e the earthquake in Christchurch. I know there was no loss of human life in the latter, but any natural disaster on that scale is dreadful.
Evie

It is a horrific event - we are thinking of you in New Zealand, Castorboy - and Caro.  Like Klara, it did seem, from the news reports, as though the chances that the men had survived the first blast were slim, but there was still hope until the dreadful second explosion.  I am so sorry this has happened, and the only hope is that if mistakes were made, acknowledging and acting on them will help to prevent future tragedies.

We are thinking of you on the other side of the world.
KlaraZ

Yes, indeed. Since visiting New Zealand, I've felt quite an empathy with the country, so friendly and such stunning scenery.

As Evie says, let's hope something can be learned to prevent any further tragedies of this kind.
Sandraseahorse

I was so sad to hear the news.  My husband had been saying the chances weren't good but after the Chilean mine rescue, I was optimistic.

Like Gino, I can remember mining disasters in this country - not pre-War but from the 50s and early 60s.   In my mind's eye, I can see the black and white TV footage of the wives keeping a vigil at the mine, some still wearing aprons or overalls as they rushed out of the house when they heard the news.

My thoughts are with the families and friends of the NZ miners.
Caro

I may be quite wrong, but I suspect that the rescue team always knew they were looking for bodies and that is one reason why they didn't send people down earlier.  The situation in a volatile coal mine with methane gases is apparently quite different from the Chilean gold mine (not that I had realised that WAS a gold mine till this happened).

We lived just out of Greymouth for over 20 years.  I thought my husband might have taught some of the dead miners, but he only recognises one name.  Some of the family names are familiar but we didn't seem to know any of them.  They mostly played rugby league or rugby for sports, and our family were soccer-oriented.  

It is a very very sad time, and I think, like Castor Boy, there will be recriminations for a long time.

Caro.
iwishiwas

Very sad news indeed, I think you are right Caro. I was not hopeful whilst following the coverage, it was almost as if they knew from the start a good outcome was unlikely.
Castorboy

KlaraZ wrote:
I do wonder though--this is what's being said in the UK press--if the rescue attempts weren't ever going to end well, since the very first explosion had proved fatal.

If the miners’ families had seen the video of that first explosion on the first day instead of on the fourth day there wouldn’t have been such frustration and anger over the seeming lack of urgency in sending a search party into the mine straight away. They would have known that it was highly likely the miners could not have survived the blast.
Unlike the Chilean mine situation the families could not get close to the mine because Pike River is in a mountainous part of Department of Environment, or National Park, land so development was kept to a minimum with no facilities for the public. From the main road there is still a 15 kilometre access road before reaching the actual workings. The families were informed at twice daily briefings back at Greymouth by the police and company officials but still felt the information given out was inadequate.

As yourself and Evie have hoped there does seem to be a move to learn from this tragedy and one suggestion is to change the way in which deep mines are required in scenic areas of natural beauty instead of the construction of open-cast mines which have much safer working conditions for miners. A Commission of Inquiry, as well as other inquiries, is to be set up so there are sure to be improvements made in the mining industry.

In general I would say the country is feeling subdued that something like this could happen especially with the festive season fast approaching. There are memorial services planned, candles lit in homes and churches, there is concern for the families of the miners and how they will cope in the immediate future. I believe the last time there was a public response like this was on November 28 1979 when a DC-10 crashed on Mt Erebus in the Antarctic with the loss of 257 lives.

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