"I deal with it, it's just part of my life. In 2014 Worksafe's New Zealand Chief Inspector stated there were "no operational barriers to reentering the mine's tunnel." Pike River Mine underground mine workers withdrawn after the presence of carcinogens found. The journey down the Pike River mine drift. "[The families] have tried everything they can to get everyone out. September 22, 2011: John Key tells Pike River families "I'm here to give you absolute reassurance we're committed to getting the boys out, and nothing's going to change that... when people try and tell you we're not... they're playing with your emotions". Pike River survivor tells his story. Pike River survivor Russell Smith and Pike River family members Sonya Rockhouse and Anna Osborne talk about an important milestone in the drift (mine access tunnel) recovery. What more can they do? Nearly six years on, Rockhouse's life has changed immeasurably. … "Mum's so determined that she's not going to give up until the bitter end. October 2013: The first phase is completed, with 35 tonnes of debris removed from the mine. Labour leader Andrew Little said independent, objective advice from mines experts had shown the drift near the entrance of the mine was safe to re-enter. December 23, 2013: John Key apologises to the families for the role that "lack of regulatory effectiveness played in the tragedy.". Sonya Rockhouse said reaching the loader vindicated families who had fought for justice for years. I feel closer to my darling son Ben, still lying in that mine just up the road. Map of Pike River Mine showing the drift, the mine workings and the rockfall (red X) (Source: Pike River Recovery Agency) A 2012 royal commission … Being underground makes him feel connected to his brother Ben Rockhouse, who died - along with 28 others - at Pike River. Police have taken possession of the loader and it will be retained as part of the ongoing investigation. But his mother continued to battle. "If I was allowed to, I would walk up that mine right now just to find some answers.". "I still have dreams about it. We waited and waited, and the Pike River Royal Commision of Inquiry found many massive failures behind the disaster that killed our boys. There were two to five men in particular who were 2.2 to 2.4 km in the mine, who I had spoken to just minutes before it went bang. However, there are a lot of unknowns between then and now.”. It's about all of our families, and standing with us is about standing as Kiwis. What's to say some or all of these men didn't do exactly as I did: survive the initial blast and attempt to make their way out, pass out just like I did, but not not regain consciousness? August 2013: The board of Solid Energy signs off a plan to re-enter the tunnel. I would have been badly injured, maybe killed, but that’s what saved me, tucked behind that door,” he said. “We were told that it was too dangerous to go into the drift, that there was nothing but ash and that we should put it behind us. "I get that people are sick of hearing about it. He believed evidence of what caused the series of explosions could still be gathered from equipment the mine. They could have fallen unconscious like I did. Nick Smith's announcement to delay the final closure of the mine was bittersweet for Daniel Rockhouse. 5 minutes to read . Specialist equipment is flown in to help rescue the miners, but they cannot be reached for days because of high gas levels. “If that hadn’t delayed me, I would have been up a lot further and you wouldn’t be talking to me today.”. Sonya Rockhouse says Key made a commitment to get the 29 out in 2014. “Daniel was concerned about how Russell was, seeing it come out. He was a coal cutter at Pike River and was late for work the day of the explosion. His marriage has ended and a new one is about to begin. Two of the 31 miners and contractors present escape. Pike River Coal chairman John Dow repeats police comments on the prospect of a rescue that night, saying it was unlikely to happen. Families of some of the 29 men killed in New Zealand’s Pike River mine disaster in November 2010 are demanding answers after police admitted to … He was driving up the drift in the loader when he was nearly killed by the force of the blast. So could the remains of some of his mates. Peter Walker, Lee Glendinning and agencies. We brought our own international experts in, and they agreed it was safe to enter. He calls Solid Energy's plans to permanently plug the mine with concrete "disgusting". April 18, 2019. 7 Sep, 2011 5:30am. On the afternoon of Friday 19 November, men employed by the Pike River mine were underground alongside employees of five different contracting companies. Prime Minister John Key pledged $10 million for the re-entry if the plan was safe, technically feasible and financially credible. The Pike River directors, NZOG and the Crown have a strong moral obligation to ensure the $3.41 million court order is paid to the families of the 29 deceased miners and the two survivors. November 11, 2010: Department of Labour lays charges in the Greymouth District Court for health and safety failings against Mr Whittall, Pike River subcontractor VLI Drilling and Pike River Coal. Nothing happened. NEW ZEALAND Pike manager more concerned with rescuers' safety. We'll be here for a while yet. December 2013: The Crown announces that charges against former Pike River Coal boss Peter Whittall have been dropped. A spokesman for Key says: "At the time the Prime Minister said the Government would do everything it reasonably could to try and find a safe re-entry method, to allow the recovery of the bodies of the 29 men and to fulfil the wishes of their families, and it has absolutely done that. It might take a while, but it would happen. Mining Editor. July 2010: Royal Commission hearings into the disaster begin, with 57 witnesses appearing and 200 written submissions received. Through the day we sit and talk with the media, with people on facebook and email, and with the many supporters who make the journey up in person. At the time of the explosion, Rockhouse was slammed against the side of the mine. Now six years later, the Government is moving to seal the mine with four massive concrete plugs. But it didn't. When Paparoa National Park was created in 1987, the area of the Pike River coalfield was deliberately excluded from it. "I think they've just tried to ease us into it by delaying it and pushing it back and back year after year. I used to think that we lived in a country where people could get justice. Smith has described the recovered loader as “a lost friend” that saved his life. That the government keeps faith with them. Rockhouse said the fight for answers had been traumatising, stressful and emotional - to the point where he had stepped away. So why couldn't they have tried to escape? If litigation funders take up the case, and are successful, these parties will regret that they didn’t take the … ", Protest at Pike River mine urges sealing to be called off, Vigil at Pike River for husbands and sons. The gases inside the mine remain volatile, preventing recovery of the bodies. I go to bed at night - my partner wakes up to find me shaking. We've had a lot of time to think while we've been at the gate. But nobody was held to account. Why wouldn't you give it a go?". So this isn't just about our boys and what happened. He returned it to the person who serviced it because the accelerator was sticking. They are literally putting hundreds of tonnes of concrete between us and our boys. ", November 13: The final sealing off of the mine, planned for this week, is delayed for a week to allow families to mark the sixth anniversary of the disaster. 28 July 2020 progress update The sandflies are appreciating our company. 6:30. Rockhouse’s loader will be the next large item recovered from the drift, expected at the end of August. 6 Sep, 2011 7:38pm. On Friday 19 November 2010 at 3:45pm there was an underground explosion at the Pike River coal mine. November 26, 2010: A third, smaller explosion is followed by a fourth explosion which ignites coal in the mine. He'd like to sit down in a room with John Key. November 24, 2010: After a second explosion, Pike River chief executive Peter Whittall tells families of the 29 miners that there is no chance the workers are still alive. A survivor of the Pike River disaster will not return from Australia for the mine recovery’s next major milestone. Explosion would have left no survivors, but rescue teams not to blame says Pike River mine executive. We lived a pretty normal life - a pretty normal Kiwi life. And I used to think that if the Prime Minister made a promise about something as important about this it would be kept. That's the way to look at it' * Two more robots recovered from Pike River mine * Pike River victims' families enter mine drift. One of only two men to survive the Pike River mine disaster is working in a Queensland mine and has now shared his tragic story of how the disaster tore apart his family. Pike River survivor Russell Smith and Pike River family members Sonya Rockhouse and Anna Osborne talk about an important milestone in the … Pike River Recovery Agency chief operating officer Dinghy Pattinson said the next big area of interest was Pit Bottom in Stone, where Daniel Rockhouse’s loader sits, as well as electrical equipment, which may hold vital evidence about the cause of the explosions. People have to realise that the rock fall did not happen until many days after the first blast and there was no fire until the third and fourth explosions days later. He lost consciousness, but woke up and was able to make his way out. They're all so passionate about wanting to find out what exactly happened down there - even after everyone's telling them to get over it and move on, they've just refused to. READ MORE: * Pike River survivor five years on: 'I'm alive. Police have been accused of endangering potential survivors and jeopardising a body recovery operation by refusing to seal the explosion-hit Pike River mine. “It finally feels like we might be able to get some truth.”. It's calm here at the gates. January 14, 2010: Police abandon attempts to recover the 29 bodies. Twenty-nine men lost their lives, and their bodies have not been recovered. "I believe that some of them survived and made an attempt to escape the mine. The company first listed and began trading on the New Zealand Exchange on 20 July 2007. Rockhouse made his way out of the mine after a methane blast on November 19, 2010, dragging Smith with him. The mine is then to be pumped full of nitrogen to force out any methane gas, and allow experts to walk down a 2.3km shaft to a rockfall. 1 Min Read. A Pike River survivor says politicians need to put aside arguments about leaked video from the mine and just get the 29 bodies out. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said the Government had done everything it could to allow the recovery of the bodies, but ultimately the decision whether to re-enter the mine was Solid Energy's. Loader driven by Russell Smith recovered Date published: 6 August 2020 The loader being driven by survivor Russell Smith when the Pike River Mine exploded in 2010 was recovered from 1581m up the drift on Tuesday 4 August 2020. Pike River survivor Russell Smith got his first close up look at his loader since the mine exploded ten years ago. The Ne… The Pike River Mine disaster was a coal mining accident that began on 19 November 2010 in the Pike River Mine, 46 km (29 mi) northeast of Greymouth, in the West Coast region of New Zealand's South Island following a methane explosion at approximately 3:44 pm (NZDT, UTC+13.The accident resulted in the deaths of 29 miners whose remains have never been recovered. September 2014: An Official Information Act (OIA) reveals WorkSafe New Zealand and Mine Rescue's advice to Solid Energy it was technically feasible to re-enter the mine. A survivor of the Pike River Mine disaster says there are nights he can't sleep because no-one has been held accountable for what happened. 18:00 Gary Knowles, the District Commander and the man in charge, says police will resume air testing in the morning. It's hard for me to see it on the news because it hasn't been resolved.". The company, in receivership, indicated during sentencing it had only enough money to pay $5000 to each family. The recovery of the loader went smoothly and to plan, Pattinson said. He's worked in mines underground in Australia and Canada. Her other son, Ben, was among the victims. Pike River survivor Daniel Rockhouse believes it's safe to enter: RNZ Checkpoint - Duration: 6:30. The Pike River Coal Company was formed in 1982 to hold exploration rights; in 1988 the company was bought by New Zealand Oil and Gas Ltd. What I've decided is that it's because many, many New Zealanders still want to live in a country where when terrible things like the Pike River explosion happen, someone is held to account, justice is delivered, and people are supported. What's happened since then has only made things worse. I'm not looking for sympathy. A number of safety failings at Pike River are highlighted by witnesses. I was 1.8km in the mine when it blew. The Pike River mine drift will be re-entered, eight years since multiple explosions occurred at the mine on November 19, 2010. “While nearly 1600 metres of the 2300m drift has now been recovered, there is still around 600 metres of roadway in the Pit Bottom in Stone area that will also need to be explored and examined when that area is reached. “He is really sad about it but, he can’t come home because of the two weeks’ quarantine he would have to do either side of it,” his mother, Sonya Rockhouse, said. November 2015: Prime Minister John Key says "I don't think anyone in their right mind would say I should send another 15 men to their peril because some family members want their loved ones removed from the mine. Pike River Coal says it will not fight the 10 charges it faces. One of the things I've been thinking about is why so many people are supporting us to get our boys out of that awful hole. John Key is confronted by Pike River families in Greymouth. "The expert advice remains that the mine is unsafe to enter and we cannot risk further lives by allowing entry when it is not safe to do so.". Initial recovery efforts were abandoned after rescue robots were lost and after insolvency the Pike River Recovery Agency was formed and reentered the mine in May 2019. October 25, 2012: Former CEO Peter Whittall pleads not guilty to 12 health and safety-related charges, and a trial date is set for March 2013. Daniel Rockhouse rescued colleague Russell Smith from the access tunnel after the 2010 explosion, which killed 29 other men. Smith’s loader was towed out on Tuesday night by the Pike River Recovery Agency. People need to understand that the potential to reclaim the drift up to the rock fall safely is very real - what these protesters are saying is that there is potentially evidence in the drift that could lead to explaining to us all what actually caused the first blast. Pike River survivor Daniel Rockhouse returns to the coalface. Daniel Rockhouse, 24, lost his younger brother Ben in the Pike River coal mine on November 19 when an explosion killed 29 men. September 29, 2010: Peter Whittall sacked as chief of Pike River Coal. November 2014: Solid Energy decide to abandon recovery efforts, and Government Ministers confirm the mine will be converted into conservation land and preserved as a memorial. February 26, 2013: After a five hour meeting of 21 global mining experts, including representatives of the Government's newly-formed High Hazards Unit, Solid Energy, Mines Rescue, and consultants hired by Pike families, families are left confident bodies could be recovered. There is no doubt in Daniel Rockhouse's mind that he and Russell Smith were not the only two who survived the first Pike River mine explosion. It was found 1563 metres up the 2.3-kilometre drift access tunnel. Nothing changed. You can take all the pictures you want, but they cannot take the place of the naked eye underground and an expert that knows what to look for,” he said. Nothing changed. He soon lost conscious… Smith was also delayed entering the mine on the day because the loader was being serviced. He's like answers, closure, even an apology. May 31, 2012: Families told by mining experts that bodies will probably never be recovered. Smiles on families faces at moment of Pike River … As on any workday, men entered and left the mine at different times. 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He's been diagnosed with PTSD and depression, and suffers from anxiety from time to time, though it's not so bad anymore, he says. At night it's quiet except for the sound of the wind and the bush. As teams prepare for entry to Pike River, Daniel Rockhouse tells the story that changed his life. Pike River father Bernie Monk, who is involved in a private investigation into the disaster said he wanted the evidence handled with extreme care in the hopes of a successful criminal prosecution. “It’s an intact crime scene, and we were stopped from having it examined for years based on claims that were just not true.”. But what happened on 19 November 2010 changed everything for me, for the other families, for New Zealand. When Pike River Mine survivor Daniel Rockhouse stumbled into an underground haven intended to save him after a massive blast at the coal mine, he found the phone and fresh air valve were not working, there was no first-aid kit. Royal Commission found the disaster was a preventable tragedy, but it could not pinpoint the actual cause of the explosions. The mine was sold to Solid Energy, and we thought that in buying the mine the Government would finally keep its leader's word. A minute of silence, heavy with emotion, has been observed in Parliament to honour the 29 men who lost their lives in Pike River mine 10 years ago. October 2014: Solid Energy delays its decision on whether to go ahead with re-entering the Pike River Mine drift. “We have done an extreme amount of work over the past 18 months. The Pike River Recovery Agency (PRRA) first re-entered the mine in May, after minister Andrew Little said the operation needed to take place to find … "I'm part of this tragedy and I'm dealing with it the best I can. November 5, 2012: Royal Commission found the disaster was a preventable tragedy, but it could not pinpoint the actual cause of the explosions. November 19, 2010: Methane ignites, causing an explosion in the mine. He was on the phone asking lots of questions about how they got it out and what condition it was in,” she said. "Without a doubt in my mind, there are people in that mine that survived that first explosion, just like I did. November 28, 2010: Prime Minister John Key announces Royal Commission inquiry into the mine tragedy, to be chaired by High Court judge Graham Panckhurst. The team spent about 30 hours recovering it. "There could be a couple of bodies sitting in that drift right now on this side of the fall." August 2014: Solid Energy announces "potentially fatal risks" are still needed to be examined before attempting to enter. If you'd asked me back in the old days if we'd be camped out in the middle of nowhere in a last ditch attempt for justice, I'd have thought you were mad. Chance played a big part in deciding the 31 men who were underground at 3.44 p.m. when an explosion disabled power and communication into the mine. Yesterday, after two days of protesting at its gates - led by Rockhouse's mother Sonya, who lost her son Benjamin, 21, and Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton, 54, died in the disaster - Environment Minister Nick Smith announced the work would be delayed a week. Their names and details appear on pages 4–5 (see: Pike River mine memorial). I sat in a room in 2011 - just before the election - and listened to Prime Minister John Key say, "I'm here to give you absolute reassurance, we're committed to getting the boys out, and nothing's going to change that.". Two men survived the explosion. The Pike River Recovery Agency has recovered a loader last driven by survivor Russell Smith from 1581m up the Pike River mine drift. Families of the victims respond furiously to the penalty. 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