New Zealand police said the 29 miners missing in a coal-mine blast five days ago are presumed dead as a second explosion yesterday ended hopes of a rescue, marking the nation’s worst mining tragedy in 96 years. The second blast occurred at the Pike River Coal Ltd. mine at about 2.40 p.m. local time and lasted for about 30 seconds. The miners’ families were told it was unlikely there were any survivors from the explosion, Gary Knowles, police superintendent, said in an interview.
“New Zealand is a nation in mourning,” Prime Minister John Key said in a speech in parliament following the news. “The 29 men whose names and faces we have all come to know, will never walk amongst us again.”
Twenty nine fathers, husbands, partners, brothers, and sons will not be coming home. After days of waiting and hoping against hope that some if not all of these men would be saved, the whole of New Zealand grieves at this terrible tragedy. Our thoughts are with the families, the rescuers, and the West Coast communities in their time of grief.