The families of the men who died in the Pike River mine have held on to hope for nearly two months. Now that hope has been dashed by the news the mine will be sealed it’s understandable that they’re lashing out.
Anger is one of the normal and natural stages of the grieving process and they can’t be blamed for feeling this way.
But those further away from the emotion, like the unions who say the decision has been made because of the cost, are making political capital out of vulnerable people’s misery.
Given the millions of dollars that have already gone into attempting rescue and then recovery, it wouldn’t be unreasonable if cost was a consideration. But it’s the danger in the mine and safety of recovery teams which led to the decision to stop.
Families and others who talk about recovery keep saying they want to bring the bodies back, but bodies aren’t designed to survive explosions and fire. Even if it was safe to go in to the mine, it is very unlikely there would be anything left to bring back.
This isn’t a time for political game playing. It’s a time for local leadership to help people start looking ahead and Greymouth mayor Tony Kokshoorn is showing it.
“At the end of the day we have to accept we can’t get these bodies out and our men are lying up there for the foreseeable future,” he says.
Recovery efforts must now centre on the living not the dead.
It is time to say good bye and to concentrate on helping the bereaved and their community.