The mother of one of the miners trapped in the Pike River mine said she accepted he was dead as soon as she heard of the explosion.
Other miners knew this too.
West Coast miners knew their 29 mates at Pike River were a lost cause before the official announcement on Wednesday, a union convener in Solid Energy’s nearby Spring Creek pit says.
Pessimism was based on gas readings showing alarming levels of toxicity and the likelihood of further explosions, as the mine remained on fire, said Trevor Balderson, a night-shift development worker who heads a crew of six at Spring Creek, 40km from Pike River.
“The initial explosion wiped out all the infrastructure,” said Mr Balderson, who moved to the West Coast in 2008, after a Yorkshire colliery closed in 2002.
“If you talk to any coal mine workers anywhere in the world, the reality is that you do not survive an explosion if you are in the firing line,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper.
This doesn’t stop armchair experts criticising the people in charge of rescue attempts and asking why a resuce wasn’t attempted sooner.
As I said in my first post on this tragedy, the first rule after an accident is to make sure the situation doesn’t get worse.
I posted on Wednesday morning about carrying hope in your heart even when your head knows that’s impossible.
The rescuers didn’t have the luxury of emotion, they couldn’t act from their hearts. They had to act from their heads in the knowledge they couldn’t endnager more lives when it was almost certain there was no-one left to save.
Some of the armchair experts are still calling for speed now it’s a recovery mission rather than a resuce. But there is no case for risking more lives in the mine when, after three explosions and a fire, there are no longer any there to be saved.
Kathryn Ryan interviewed some real experts on this topic yesterday morning.