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Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy: Update

Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine Tragedy: News Update

August 29, 2011

Search & Rescue hearings start next week

The Royal Commission starts the public hearings into the search and rescue phase of its inquiries at 11.30am on Monday 5 September, at the Greymouth District Court, Greymouth.

The hearing plan and list of witnesses to be questioned has now been released.

The Commission reminds people that the hearing plan is an indicative one and timings may change as the hearings unfold.

Approach to Phase 2 Search & Rescue hearings

The course of the rescue operation at Pike River Coal Mine has been described in detail in evidence and documents received by the Commission. The Commission’s analysis of this material has identified key questions it wants addressed at the public hearings.

These include:

• Was there a second means of egress from the mine?
• Was emergency response planning and training at the mine adequate?
• Were rescue efforts hampered by a lack of vital information?
• Were the rescue efforts conducted by the right people and well run?
• Was there ever a window of opportunity to re-enter the mine?
• Were communications with the families well handled?

A list of the questions covering the cause of loss of life, the search and rescue, emergency response planning, the search, rescue and recovery operation, decisions, resources and communications with families is available now.

The hearings will also have a forward focus. The Commission will seek answers to the question: how could the rescue response have been handled better?

26 witnesses being called

Twenty six witnesses are being called, including former workers and managers at Pike River Coal Limited, Police, Mines Rescue Service personnel, representatives from the Department of Labour and Solid Energy, Australian experts and people involved in the search and rescue, New Zealand Fire Service and members of the men’s families.

Chronologies

The Commission is preparing a chronology of the search and rescue based on evidence and documents received for use and reference during the hearings. The search and rescue chronology will be available shortly from http://pikeriver.royalcommission.govt.nz/

How to keep up with the hearings

The Commission will sit:

Monday: 11.30am-5.00pm
Tuesday -Thursday: 10.00am-5.00pm
Friday: 10.00am-1.00pm

Lunch adjournment 1.00pm-2.00pm

Hearing transcripts will be available from our website by 6.00pm each day of the hearings.

There will be a link to the live streaming of the hearings from http://pikeriver.royalcommission.govt.nz/or visit www.tv3.co.nz or www.tvnz.co.nz

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