The Pike River mine exploded in a series of gas blasts in 2010, leaving 29 bodies – including Pete Rodger and Malcolm Campbell – trapped inside after a rescue mission was deemed too dangerous
Image: AFP/Getty Images)
The bodies of 29 coalminers including two Brits who lost their lives in the Pike River disaster in New Zealand will be sealed in the mine forever.
Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, and Malcolm Campbell, 25, from St Andrews, both perished in a series of blasts at the mine, the Daily Record reports.
The men died on November 19 2010 after a methane gas explosion caused the mine to collapse, leaving many families devastated as a rescue mission was deemed to be too dangerous.
There was another explosion six days later which blasted through the mine, erasing any lingering hope of a miracle.
The gas had meant that the air in the mine was toxic, making it very unlikely that anyone would have been alive even if they were able to survive the blasts.
The youngest victim was just 17-years-old.
It was found that the miners and contractors were exposed to “Unacceptable risk” and that “There were numerous warnings of a potential catastrophe at Pike River,” a Royal Commission found in 2012.
But, to date there have been no prosecutions and the families have not been able to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones to bury them.
Legal action has been previously taken by the families against the New Zealand authorities to find the bodies of the victims, but this has now ended and the mine is to be sealed.
In June of this year, Bernie Monk, whose son Michael died in the disaster, took legal action in opposition to the sealing of the mine before a police investigation was concluded.
The New Zealand government will be sealing the mine, meaning that there will be no access to the remains of the victims or any evidence that may help to understand the circumstances that lead to the explosion.
The decision has triggered opposition, including protests by the victims’ families and supporters, as well as a petition opposing the sealing of the mine which was signed by 6,600 people.
In 2013, after a two-year investigation it was decided “that no charges will be laid against any individual involved in the management of Pike River Coal prior to the explosion”.
The police stated that there was evidence that the mine did not adhere to safety standards, but there was not enough evidence for a corporate manslaughter charge.
Pike River Coal was ordered to pay NZ$110,000 to each of the victim’s families and The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment dropped 12 health and safety charges against the mine’s former chief executive Peter Whittall, in a NZ$3.4m deal.
With the closing of the mine, the bodies of the men will be trapped inside forever without any hope of future investigations.
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