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Mine footage sparks re-entry call

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/04/2017

Six-year-old footage of inside the Pike River Mine where the bodies of 29 workers remain after an explosion has become public, reigniting search calls.

The families of the men killed in the 2010 disaster want the mine re-entered but the government says it's too dangerous.

The footage, date-stamped March 15, 2011 or three months after the final explosion, was revealed on Sunday by Newshub.

It shows a robot which stops when it gets to an abandoned loader and men in the drift or mine passageway making an ad hoc water cover for the robot.

Labour Party leader Andrew Little says the footage appears to show that going into the drift doesn't pose the danger the government and mine owner Solid Energy, a state-owned enterprise, claim.

"The government must immediately release all Pike footage and images and explain why it has kept the public and the families in the dark for so long," he says.

The new footage casts doubt over the government's reasons for blocking a manned re-entry of the drift, he says.

The sight of men moving confidently inside the drift with only breathing masks on suggests this isn't the excessively dangerous situation.

"National claims sending people into the drift would unduly risk their lives. Yet, here is film of two men calmly working in the drift, taking their time to make an ad hoc water cover for a robot."

The drift appears undamaged.

The robot overheats and emits smoke yet no explosion is triggered.

This makes a lie of (Environment Minister) Nick Smith's claim that the 98 per cent methane atmosphere in the drift is highly flammable. In fact, as the scientifically literate Nick Smith surely knows, methane cannot explode in a nearly pure methane atmosphere with little oxygen," Mr Little says.

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