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Pike's recovery plan could take months

A DRAFT two-stage re-entry plan to recover the bodies of the 29 miners killed by the explosion last month at the Pike River Mine in New Zealand was presented to police yesterday by the receivers of Pike River Coal.

Lou Caruana
Pike's recovery plan could take months

The draft was prepared by a panel of technical experts including Australian and New Zealand mines rescue personnel and Pike River Coal staff for PriceWaterhouse Coopers.

It is now being considered by NZ police and the Department of Labour.

The first phase relates to existing work under way to stabilise the mine after four explosions and recommends extra work to seal cracks in the ground to stem the flow of gases out of the mine.

The second phase of the plan involves recovering the remains of the 29 miners once the mine has been declared safe to enter, a process that could take months.

“The plan requires detailed consideration by ourselves and our advisers. This will take several weeks,” NZ Police Commissioner Howard Broad told The NZ Press.

Chief Coroner Judge Neil MacLean said the inquest into the 29 deaths would be held on January 27 in Greymouth.

He said it would focus on confirming identity and establishing likely time frames and cause of death if possible.

“Wider issues concerning cause and possible prevention are likely to be covered by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, so to avoid any prejudice and allow all other investigations to be completed, the inquest is likely to be adjourned indefinitely after the January date,” he allegedly told The NZ Press.

He said he would hear evidence provided by police and mining experts. The inquest would allow him to register the deaths and issue death certificates, he said.

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