False hope was not given over the survival of the miners who died in the Pike River tragedy last year, the police officer in charge of rescue operations has said.
Speaking at the royal commission yesterday, police assistant commissioner Grant Nicholls said despite the chance the miners had survived the initial explosions, it was still a very difficult situation in which to co-ordinate a rescue, according to The Press.
Pike River CEO Peter Whitall “stated that the fresh air was being pumped into the mine and that it was quite conceivable that there was a large number of men sitting around the end of an open pipe, waiting and wondering why we’re not taking our time to get to them,” Nicholls said."I’m almost certain that it was the chairman of the board, John Dow, who said on the 20th of November that there was enough rescuers or self-rescuers in the mine for people to have survived for several days."
Nicholls went on to say that while the Chile gold mine rescue had raised expectations of a successful rescue for Pike River, the gold mine did not have methane throughout its tunnels, making the situation very different.
The royal commission also heard yesterday that a Pike River miner spoke to the control room moments before the methane ignited.
Former Pike River control room officer Daniel Duggan told the commission he spoke to who believed was Scottish miner Malcolm Campbell.
Duggan stated that he spoke to the miners to inform them that water pumps were online again after maintenance, and that mining could restart.
Only seconds after Campbell reportedly said “Hello Dan, who are you looking for?”, Duggan responded and then an unidentified noise is heard.
He tried to make contact with other underground, but all intercom and phone communications were lost, along with mine power and gas monitoring equipment.
Duggan’s call to emergency services was also played at the commission.
Daniel Rockhouse, one of only two survivors, reportedly also made a call from within the mine that day.