By Tom Peters
29 June 2017
On June 19, TV3’s Newshub aired more footage taken inside the Pike River Coal mine in New Zealand’s South Island, which exploded in November 2010, killing 29 men. The video, recorded in early 2011 by cameras lowered into the mine through bore-holes, shows a pair of glasses, rubber hosing and a wooden pallet.
It also clearly shows at least two intact bodies, and there are less clear images of what may be more bodies. These images have not been made public but have been viewed by the families and reporters.
The video is part of several hours of footage suppressed by police for more than six years. It was released to the victims’ families only after some excerpts were leaked and broadcast in April. That video showed members of Mines Rescue working inside the drift tunnel that leads into the main body of the mine. It discredits repeated National Party government claims that the mine is too dangerous to re-enter to investigate the precise cause of the explosion and to recover bodies.
The latest footage shows that the interior of the mine after the explosion was not what the families and the public were led to believe. Last December cabinet minister Judith Collins, who was the police minister at the time of the explosion, told TV3 there could be no manned re-entry because “infernos” had made the mine “a terrible mess.”
Prime Minister Bill English attempted to dismiss the latest footage as “nothing new,” saying the Royal Commission had examined it. He told Newshub “the implication that somehow there’s been a cover-up is complete nonsense.”