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Drill Hole Aims To Give More Information To Rescuers

21 November 2010

Drill Hole Aims To Provide Additional Information For Mine Rescue Planners

A drill hole which is planned to intercept a roadway within Pike River coal mine will provide rescue planners with more information about gas levels in the mine’s air, says Pike River Chief Executive Peter Whittall.

There are 29 men unaccounted for following an explosion in the mine, about 50km north of Greymouth, on Friday afternoon (19 November).

It is expected the drilling will begin today but it is not known how long it will take to reach its target. If the ground the drill bit passes through is not stable, the hole will need to be encased to prevent its collapse, Mr Whittall says. That would slow progress.

The drill hole would be of sufficient size to allow a camera to be lowered.

Mine gas level readings are being taken from one ventilation point and analysed every half hour, with the aim of determining when it is safe to allow Mines Rescue team members to enter the mine. The new drill hole would provide atmospheric samples from an additional area within the mine.

Mr Whittall today accompanied relatives of the missing men to the mine. He said it was an emotional time for many of the relatives but also helpful in that it allowed them to understand more about the operation and the planning and preparation for a rescue.

“Many people had never been there before and I think they have a much better understanding now of the situation,” he says. “They were able to meet the senior people who are making the decisions from all the organisations involved in the rescue effort and see all the things happening on the site.”

ENDS

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