Cliff to provide crucial insights

MINE safety academic Dr David Cliff is helping the recovery efforts at the Pike River coal mine with the GAG inertisation unit set to continue operating throughout the weekend. New Zealand police are also ramping up investigation work.
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The Pike River mine a few weeks before the tragic explosions.

Blair Price

Cliff will join Superintendent Gary Knowles for the next media briefing this afternoon (4.15pm NZDT).

While there are still some hopes in New Zealand that the bodies of the 29 dead miners can be returned to their families, there has been a series of explosions plus a major coal fire underground.

After the third explosion, Cliff told ILN that each blast would destroy forensic evidence and make investigations into the first blast more difficult.

Meanwhile, extra police officers have been brought over to the West Coast to aid investigation efforts into the mine disaster, according to Radio New Zealand.

Police are interviewing miners, employees and others involved in the mine.

Cliff is an associate professor and operations manager at the University of Queensland’s Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre and is highly experienced in fighting fires in underground coal mines.

The GAG unit, a modified jet engine, overwhelms any fires and explosive gases underground with vast quantities of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapour.

Queensland Mines Rescue Services state manager Wayne Hartley previously told ILN it could take 4-6 hours to inert the Pike River mine the first time.

The mine needs to be inerted several times with the GAG unit.

After it is inert, nitrogen will be pumped into the mine to cool it down.