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Pike River footage not new: English

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6 days ago

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Video footage from Pike River showing a lack of apparent fire or blast damage is not new or compelling evidence for re-entering the mine's drift, Prime Minister Bill English says.

The footage, which emerged on Sunday, appears to show glasses that may have belonged to Ben Rockhouse, one of the 29 men killed in the explosive 2010 underground coal mine disaster.

"New Zealand has been told there's nothing but ashes and dust down there, they've been told that the drift can't be made safe to enter and investigate," his mother Sonya Rockhouse said in a statement.

"That's just not true, my boy is down there and if pallets and paper are intact then so is his body," she said.

"[Prime Minister] Bill English needs to stop trying to hide from this ... He needs to let our experts work with mines rescue to enter the drift and find out what happened down there."

But Mr English on Monday told Three's AM Show there was "nothing actually new about the footage", which had "been around for years".

"[I'm advised it's all] been assessed before as part of the decision making around the mine," he said.

Flames burn out of control from a ventilation shaft at the Pike River Mine on November 30, 2010 in Greymouth, New Zealand. (Iain McGregor-Pool/Getty Images) © Getty Images Flames burn out of control from a ventilation shaft at the Pike River Mine on November 30, 2010 in Greymouth, New Zealand. (Iain McGregor-Pool/Getty Images) The footage was taken by a camera lowered down a 126-metre bore drilled about a month after the explosions and into the deepest part of the West Coast mine.

Broadcast by Newshub on Sunday, it shows undamaged wooden pallets and rubber hoses.

Labour leader Andrew Little says it provides a compelling reason for re-entry.

"This is creating even further doubt as to why the government stubbornly refuses to consider a manned re-entry of the drift.

Mr Little said he had committed to safe re-entry of Pike and would "clear the technicalities that the government hides behind".

Mr English has previously ruled out re-entry, relying on expert advice that it is too risky to go into the potentially explosive methane-filled drift.

"We want to continue working with [the families and experts to make an] unmanned entry that is planned to go on very shortly," he said.

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