The bodies of the victims of the New Zealand mining explosion were found a decade later

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – More than a decade after the methane explosion killed 29 workers at a coal mine in New Zealand, police said on Wednesday they found at least two bodies thanks to new camera images.

But authorities say the bulk of the Pike River mine is still too dangerous to go in, so they can’t find the remains.

Police have been investigating the disaster for years, and some members of the miners ’families hope they will eventually prosecute.

Police Crime Commissioner Peter Read said he found at least two bodies and possibly a third after the camera was sent down to a recently dug hole. He said the bodies were found in a mine far away where methane levels are still high.

Read said the imaging technology had improved significantly after the disaster, helping them make the discovery.

He said they had not yet been able to identify the bodies, although they worked with forensic experts to see if that was possible. He said they had previously identified six or eight miners believed to have been working in the area at the time.

“This is just two days away from the eleventh anniversary of the mining explosion, and we want to thank all the men’s families,” Read told reporters. “It’s a really stark reminder of the pain and loss.”

He said the discovery would help their research.

Read said police did not publish pictures of respect for families and refused to describe the conditions of the bodies.

“That’s what you can expect after 11 years, but I’m really not going to go into details about what the pictures show,” he said.

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton died in the blast, said she was preparing for her 11th birthday and was initially shocked by the announcement. She initially wondered if any of the body could be her husband, but then realized she would have been elsewhere in the mine.

He said he was proud because the families had put strong pressure on the authorities to return to the safer part of the mine, which they had finally done in 2019. He said it helped revive the police investigation.

“I think our men deserve justice,” she said.

Osborne said it was unfortunate that the bodies could not be recovered.

“They all died together and they all stay together,” he said.

According to a previous study, Pike River Coal had exposed miners to unreasonable risks in pursuit of its financial goals. According to the report, the company ignored 21 warnings that methane gas had accumulated to explosive levels before the disaster.

The bankrupt company did not contest the labor charges against it.

Labor violation charges against former CEO Peter Whittall were dismissed after he and the company made a financial settlement, which angered many grieving families.

The New Zealand Supreme Court later ruled the reconciliation illegal.

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