Friday 19 November 2010

27 trapped in Pike River mine explosion

At around 4:30pm New Zealand time, there was a massive explosion at the Pike River coal mine, on the West Coast of the South Island.  The mine is situated between Greymouth and Reefton. 

Only two miners have emerged out, with 27 still trapped.  There has been some reports that there is one death at this stage. A gas caused the explosion.

Pike River, which employs 150 miners, is a horizontal mine, not a vertical shaft, which will facilitate the rescue. The main tunnel is 2.3 kilometres below the surface. It only opened just over a year ago.

This incident comes after similar accidents in Chile and China in recent weeks, however unlike a collapse, this explosion is, probably caused by methane, produces carbon monoxide, which is extremely poisonous. As a reader reminded me, this is where the canary in the coal mine comes in as canaries are famously sensitive to such gases. These miners have a breathing unit to put on for this to get themselves to a refuge station where there are oxygen supplies.

There has been no powered ventilation since 3:45pm Friday. There has been no communication with the missing miners.

1 comment:

KitchenSlut said...

KS has been reluctant to comment on this given its sensitiviy for families and survivors but has swapped some emails with MM over in NZ and ..... what and how to contribute?

KS worked in underground coal mining for 20 years and despite being gone more that a decade despite tempting financial offers will not go back. This is not like Chile .... the barriers are not physical rocks but the mine environment.

This is a difference with coal mining and many may not be aware just how many are sacrificed every year in village mines in India and China. China has tried to close and move from it's communal mines.

In any previous such event in Australia, or NZ, hope would now be lost. It survives because of continual inprovement and the possibility that refuge innovations ... which following Moura explosion introduced in Qld a decade ago may offer an opportunity!

Regardless, underground mining teams are something very unique which is something very difficult for those who haven't been there to comprehend!

The largest Qld coal disastr was our own local Mt Mulligam which had consequences for Qld mining regulation. I Haven't been to Mt Mulligan still on my list .......