Find a different way to get into Pike River: families

The families of the Pike River Coal victims say they want a reconnaissance to recover the bodies of the 29 men who lay entombed in the mine.

Rescuers have rejected the request to walk into the mine portal to one of the main rockfalls, where it is believed some bodies may be located.

Radio New Zealand has obtained the report from Mines Rescue Services that says the mine remains to dangerous to attempt the 2.4 kilometre walk.

It says while recovering the men is a top priority for the service, it will not put rescuers at risk by allowing them to enter the underground mine on New Zealand’s west coast, which still remains unstable.

It has not ruled out recovering the bodies eventually through a more complex operation in the future, but says it does not have authority to enter the mine independently.

A meeting between family representatives, Mines Rescue Services, police and the receivers will be held on Monday to discuss alternative ways to enter the mine and recover the bodies.

The families determination to reach the dead miners has increased recently, after they were shown footage which showed a fully clothed body inside the mine.

The discovery could indicate the men did not die as a result of the initial explosion on November 19, as previously thought.

Police said yesterday they were “highly suspicious” about a second body families say they saw in footage taken inside the mine.

The families are also calling for a feasibility study to find ways to recover the remains.

A lawyer representing some of the families, Colin Smith, told local program Checkpoint that their focus is now about finding alternate ways to enter the mine, after previously focusing on gaining entry through the existing tunnel or shaft.

They say it is now time to find alternative ways to enter.

Smith said mining experts have discussed alternate entry plans with the families and do not believe the cost would prevent the operations.

Last week, the former mine safety officer at Pike River, Neville Rockhouse said financial issues were preventing receivers from conducting a proper recovery effort.

Representative for the families, Bernie Monk said all they have heard for months are varying reasons about why people cannot go in and now he wants to hear other options.

Monk lost his son Ben in the disaster said even if there are dangers involved, they should be fixed.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn has echoed the calls for the families to recover the bodies, and says finding a way into the mine is a matter of urgency.

Image: 3news New Zealand

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