Enhanced video footage taken inside the Pike River coal mine after the explosions that killed 29 men in November definitely shows two bodies, according to the spokesman for victims’ families.
The footage showing what appeared to be a body laying face down inside the mine was originally shown to the families in April, sparking doubt that the men died from the first explosion as originally thought.
The families believed they saw two bodies in the footage, but the second was deemed “highly suspicious” by police.
The families have now seen enhanced versions of the footage, and family spokesman Bernie Monk told New Zealand media the images are far clearer and leave no doubt there are two bodies shown.
”They look very obvious that they are bodies but they (the police) are not prepared to confirm that at the moment,” he told NZPA.
Two family members had themselves worked inside the mine, and were able to provide some information on the images over the weekend.
”A lot of the footage that the families have seen so far has been bits and pieces, whereas today it was all in a line,” Monk said.
“They were able to explain to them areas where they all were and it also showed quite good visuals of the [two survivors] coming out of the mine after the explosion.”
In the images, the interior of the mine can be seen before and after the second explosion, which led to a rockfall that prevented entry into the area the men are thought to have been at the time of the explosions.
Monk said the footage made families realise “’we may not get everyone out of that mine.”
”I’m not saying that that’s going to happen but that’s a possibility, that not everyone is going to come out of the mine if they are under that rockfall.”
The first of the four phases of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the tragedy concluded in Greymouth on Friday.
Pike River boss Peter Whittall was the last to face questioning, and told the court a planned second escape route was never constructed at the mine.
There have also been calls for Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson to stand down, after it was revealed she did not implement changes recommended by mine safety experts.
The next phase of the inquiry will start on 5 September, and the commission will report its findings to the Governor-General by March 31 next year.