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The Pike River inquest has been told that the 29 workers most likely died within three to five minutes of the initial explosion inside the mine.
Superintendent Gary Knowles today told the inquest that evidence from Dr Robin Griffiths from Otago university said gases present in the mine after the explosion would have been similar to cyanide and caused loss of consciousness and death within three to five minutes.
The former manager of the Pike River Coal mine, Doug White, did not attend the inquest but had his evidence read by his counsel, which discussed the confusion following the fatal blast on November 19.
He told the inquest that two miners failed to remove their identification tags upon exiting the mine, which are left on a board by miners and contractors when they enter the mine.
Staff at Pike River were forced to make phone calls to family to verify the location of three men.
CEO of Pike River Coal, Peter Whittal, is present at the inquest but is not expected to give evidence.