Situation for New Zealand miners takes a turn for the worse

Coal mine explosion

The situation after the New Zealand mine explosion has not improved, and a rescue is becoming less likely. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The situation for the workers trapped in the New Zealand mine is not progressing as hoped. The Pike River Mine has been found to contain dangerous methane gas, which makes a rescue harder to pull off. It may be too dangerous to attempt to rescue the trapped New Zealand miners, even if they are still alive.

Dangerous gas confirmed in New Zealand mine

After the New Zealand mine explosion occurred and trapped 29 miners, the possibility of a rescue hinged largely on what the conditions inside the mine were. The blast occurred on Friday, Nov. 12, and air samples taken three days later revealed dangerously high and fluctuating amounts of methane, according to The Telegraph. Methane is a particularly volatile gas that is a common by-product of coal mining, and can cause mine explosions. There is a plan to send a bomb disposal robot into the mine, which will further assess the situation. However, the battery operated robot will only work in fresh air, and a methane rich atmosphere in the mine would prevent it from working.

Chilean mine miracle may not repeat

Officials in New Zealand have been communicating with officials from the Chilean mine disaster, from which 33 men miraculously walked away. However, the key difference is that the Chilean mine was a copper and gold mine, and the Pike River coal mine outside Greymouth is a coal mine. Coal mining can release dangerous gases from the earth because of the composition of coal ores, especially dangerous explosive gases such as methane. New Zealand officials are keeping positive mindset but are trying to be realistic and “planning for all outcomes” including that lives may have been lost, according to USA Today.

No communications

No communications have yet been established with the trapped New Zealand miners. A phone line to the mine has rung constantly since the mine explosion, but has gone unanswered. New Zealand has one of the safer records of mining in the world, with accidents being rarer than in other countries.

Sources

The Telegraph

USA Today

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