Twenty-nine New Zealand miners were trapped underground in the Pike River coal mine, which is located in New Zealand’s South Island, on Nov. 19 following an explosion. Media reports indicate that the threat of a second explosion and toxic gases are keeping rescuers at bay.
Following the explosion on Nov. 19, New Zealand Minister of Energy and Resources Gerry Brownlee stressed that the government was ready to help.
“The government stands ready to offer whatever help and resources are required. Various agencies, including police, fire, ambulance and hospitals are already involved. The West Coast mine rescue team has been activated,” Brownlee said.
“The thoughts of the government are with the miners, their families and the rescue personnel dealing with this developing situation,” he added.
But on Nov. 23, the miners were still trapped, rescuers have witnessed no signs of life and dangerous conditions have made rescue attempts impossible. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Nov. 23 described the situation as “grave” and acknowledged that rescuers may need to prepare for loss of life, according to media reports.
Reports also indicate that a robot is being transported to the mine from Australia to determine whether the miners are still alive.
China Miners Rescued
According to the China news agency Xinhua, a total of 22 workers in the Batian Coal Mine in China’s Sichuan Province in southwest China were trapped Nov. 21 when the mine flooded. A rescue team of seven also became trapped when the safety tunnel later flooded as well.
All 29 awaited rescue, which finally came 25 hours later on Nov. 22 when enough water was pumped out of the mine to allow a safe rescue.
This China mine rescue represents a success story in a country with a notoriously high rate of mining accidents and fatalities.