Families of the men who died in the Pike River mine explosion are understandably upset that video footage from the mine shows intact bodies when they’d previously been told fire would have consumed everything.
It is fair to question why all footage wasn’t shown earlier.
But whatever video shows, Solid Energy chief executive Tony King is right when he says it doesn’t make it safe for people to enter the mine:
“As we have previously said, there is nothing in any of the video footage that has been released that contradicts the ultimate decision that manned re-entry of the mine is unsafe”, said Mr King.
“The lack of damage evident in the video footage of Borehole 44 is consistent with what would be expected in the circumstances. We all saw the images of flames coming out of the shaft. These hot gases established an air current that drew air up the drift, into the fire and then up the shaft. The tendency in an underground fire is for it to burn back towards the source of oxygen i.e. the drift. The roof-fall at the end of the drift is probably due to heat damage, and extensive damage from there through to the shaft and in adjacent roadways would be expected. The inner parts of the mine would be oxygen deficient and there would have been no air current to draw the fire into those areas.”
The directors of Solid Energy wrote an open letter last year explaining why it is unsafe to enter the mine.
Full information on the technical aspects of re-entry is on their website.
It would be helpful to counter conspiracy theorists if all video footage was released.
But that won’t change the fact that the mine is unsafe and no lives should be risked to rescue the dead.