New Zealand officials have confirmed that a second blast has occured at the underground Pike River Coal mine and there is now little to no hope for survivors.
This follows our earlier story about the unpredictable state if the mine and reluctance from officials to send rescue teams down prematurely.
Two Australian journalists, sparked anger and were labelled “inappropriate” and “boorish” following questions about why rescue teams had not been sent into the area and why the police chief was announcing decisions about the situation.
One of the journalists even compared the Pike River Coal disaster to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and said emergency departments were quicker to act in that situation.
Superintendent Gary Knowles, who is in charge of the operation, said it was unrealistic to compare the two disasters, and more care had to be taken in an underground mine to ensure safety.
Two holes drilled into the mine today released toxic air from the mine where the workers are trapped.
Peter Whittall, chief executive of the mine, said the gases that escaped from the bore hole contained carbon monoxide, methane and very little oxygen.
At this stage authorities said there was a chance they would never rescue the 29 trapped miners, much to the fear of families waiting for any good news on the situation.
Unfortunately, there was no such news, and at 2:37pm New Zealand time, a second blast rocked the mine and ruled out any chance of survivors.
Superintendent Knowles broke the shattering news to the “distraught” families this afternoon, who did not address the waiting media.
"I was at the mine myself when the explosion occurred. The blast was horrific. Just as severe as the first blast – and we are now moving into a recovery mode."
Knowles said it was unclear what exactly had happened to cause the second blast. A formal media briefing will be given at 5:30pm (3:30 AEDT) at Greymouth Police station.
Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn broke down as he left the briefing and said this disaster was “the west coast’s darkest hour.”