Inquest set for deaths at Fortescue mine camp

The father of a man killed when a cyclone tore through the Fortescue Metals Group’s Rail Camp One hopes an inquest will shed light into unanswered questions surrounding his son’s death.

42-year-old Craig Raabe and Perth mother-of-two Debra Till were killed in 2007 when category-five Cyclone George ripped through the Pilbara mining camp, lifting dongas and flipping some over.

Speaking from his home in Queensland yesterday, Craig’s father Steve welcomed news that the WA government would hold an inquest into the incident later this year.

“We’ve had to fight for more than 7½ years to get this far, so it is a big relief,” Raabe told The Australian.

The inquest will centre around the dongas that were installed at the camp and the decisions that led to their use on site after an investigation found some dongas were not up to cyclone standards.

It will also question why the camp was not evacuated before the cyclone hit.

Last year FMG was cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to the two deaths.

The Supreme Court rejected a WorkSafe appeal over the incident, instead upholding a previous decision that Fortescue had not failed in its duty of care.

The contractor that installed the dongas, NT Link, was given immunity by WorkSafe as part of the court case.

“Fortescue was exonerated of any wrongdoing in earlier proceedings. We welcome the coronial ­inquiry on the basis that it should provide answers the families need for closure,” FMG said in a statement. 

In late March 2010, Fortescue applied to have the charges dismissed, claiming that it was charged under the wrong laws.

It stated that both the miner and its subsidiary The Pilbara Infrastructure’s (TPI) mines were exempt from the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Instead, Fortescue claims its safety management procedures come under the Mines Safety and Inspection Act of 1994, rather than the previous act under which it was charged.

It aimed to have the case dismissed as the charges failed to identify the measures Fortescue should have taken to effectively avoid risks.

Stephen Hall rejected WorkSafe's claims that Fortescue and TPI had a duty to maintain the dongas as they had contracted another company to build and manage the camp.

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