Pike River inquest begins

The inquest into the explosions that killed 29 men inside the Pike River coal mine will begin today.

Families of the victims, lawyers and officials have packed the Greymouth District Court for the opening day of the inquest.

Head of the inquest, Chief Coroner Neil MacLean said the inquest will focus on “who, what , where and when”, most likely limited to confirming the identities of the dead and establishing timeframes and the cause of death.

He said he will not be able to go “too far” into the location of the deaths.

The evidence will start with Superintendent Gary Knowles information from police, followed by written information from Pike River general manager Doug White, to be read by his counsel.

Queensland mine expert David Cliff is likely to be called, as well as lawyer for the families, Nicholas Davidson, medical expert Michael Donoghue and Steve Ellis from Pike River Coal.

The families of the mine workers voiced their concern about the police’s decision to seal the mine and abandon recovery operations, saying important information could be lost.

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http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/pike-river-families-gutted-by-decision-to-seal–1-

However PricewaterhouseCoopers, receivers of the mine, said they would continue the recovery efforts for up to eight weeks.

MacLean indicated he will give an oral finding today or Friday following the inquest, which is set down for two days.

Issues concerning the cause of the explosions and future preventions will be covered by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, and the inquest is likely to be adjourned indefinitely.
 

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