Now I don't. But it didn't. 1 Min Read. Daniel Rockhouse rescued colleague Russell Smith from the access tunnel after the 2010 explosion, which killed 29 other men. ", 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. The Pike River mine drift will be re-entered, eight years since multiple explosions occurred at the mine on November 19, 2010. 6:30. The loader’s removal was an important milestone in the recovery efforts, which he hoped would lead to answers, accountability and justice. 6 Sep, 2011 7:38pm. It's calm here at the gates. 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. Police have taken possession of the loader and it will be retained as part of the ongoing investigation. He believed evidence of what caused the series of explosions could still be gathered from equipment the mine. (Video first published in August 2020). A Pike River survivor says politicians need to put aside arguments about leaked video from the mine and just get the 29 bodies out. 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. Mining Editor. 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. He came across Smith on his way, and dragged him to safety. “It’s an intact crime scene, and we were stopped from having it examined for years based on claims that were just not true.”. Specialist equipment is flown in to help rescue the miners, but they cannot be reached for days because of high gas levels. "I'm part of this tragedy and I'm dealing with it the best I can. 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. If the Government seals that mine, they seal more than just our families' hopes with it. November 19, 2010: Methane ignites, causing an explosion in the mine. Peter Walker, Lee Glendinning and agencies. November 26, 2010: A third, smaller explosion is followed by a fourth explosion which ignites coal in the mine. It sucks, but I don't choose to dream about it.". But protesters at the gate to the mine say the occupation will not end until John Key fulfills his promise to do everything he can to recover the bodies. Pike River Coal says it will not fight the 10 charges it faces. Now we know that’s false. I'm not looking for sympathy. It's about all of our families, and standing with us is about standing as Kiwis. Pike River survivor twice delayed from entering mine. His message to the government is to deal with it. “Daniel was concerned about how Russell was, seeing it come out. But what happened on 19 November 2010 changed everything for me, for the other families, for New Zealand. Nothing changed. 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. We brought our own international experts in, and they agreed it was safe to enter. "[The families] have tried everything they can to get everyone out. When Paparoa National Park was created in 1987, the area of the Pike River coalfield was deliberately excluded from it. “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. The company, in receivership, indicated during sentencing it had only enough money to pay $5000 to each family. "If I was allowed to, I would walk up that mine right now just to find some answers.". 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. "I believe that some of them survived and made an attempt to escape the mine. Pike River Coal chairman John Dow repeats police comments on the prospect of a rescue that night, saying it was unlikely to happen. At night it's quiet except for the sound of the wind and the bush. Explosion would have left no survivors, but rescue teams not to blame says Pike River mine executive. 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? “Things have been progressing very well, and we’re hopeful that we might reach Pit Bottom in Stone by the end of August. Smiles on families faces at moment of Pike River … Sonya Rockhouse was at Thursday’s event for families. “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. Sonya Rockhouse says Key made a commitment to get the 29 out in 2014. Smith was also delayed entering the mine on the day because the loader was being serviced. I used to think that we lived in a country where people could get justice. Russell Smith with his loader from the explosion inside the Pike River mine. The Pike River Recovery Agency has recovered a loader last driven by survivor Russell Smith from 1581m up the Pike River mine drift. … The journey down the Pike River mine drift. November 5, 2012: Royal Commission found the disaster was a preventable tragedy, but it could not pinpoint the actual cause of the explosions. It was found 1563 metres up the 2.3-kilometre drift access tunnel. That's the way to look at it' * Two more robots recovered from Pike River mine * Pike River victims' families enter mine drift. He was driving up the drift in the loader when he was nearly killed by the force of the blast. READ MORE: * Pike River survivor five years on: 'I'm alive. 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. October 2014: Solid Energy delays its decision on whether to go ahead with re-entering the Pike River Mine drift. Pike River widow Anna Osborne said waiting and watching for the loader to come out took her back to the day of the explosion. April 18, 2019. 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". He calls Solid Energy's plans to permanently plug the mine with concrete "disgusting". It's hard for me to see it on the news because it hasn't been resolved.". "Mum's so determined that she's not going to give up until the bitter end. The loader driven by one of the two men to survive the Pike River Mine explosion 10 years ago was pulled out of the drift this week by the Pike River Recovery Agency underground team. 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. A survivor of the Pike River disaster will not return from Australia for the mine recovery’s next major milestone. It might take a while, but it would happen. Now six years later, the Government is moving to seal the mine with four massive concrete plugs. July 2010: Royal Commission hearings into the disaster begin, with 57 witnesses appearing and 200 written submissions received. He returned it to the person who serviced it because the accelerator was sticking. If litigation funders take up the case, and are successful, these parties will regret that they didn’t take the … I would have been badly injured, maybe killed, but that’s what saved me, tucked behind that door,” he 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. 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. May 31, 2012: Families told by mining experts that bodies will probably never be recovered. August 2013: The board of Solid Energy signs off a plan to re-enter the tunnel. Leaked Pike River Mine footage could prove there were survivors after first explosion. 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. His marriage has ended and a new one is about to begin. Rockhouse made his way out of the mine after a methane blast on November 19, 2010, dragging Smith with him. The sandflies are appreciating our company. October 2013: The first phase is completed, with 35 tonnes of debris removed from the mine. The protesters say they'll remain there until John Key "makes good his promise to the families". I feel closer to my darling son Ben, still lying in that mine just up the road. 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 … They are literally putting hundreds of tonnes of concrete between us and our boys. "I deal with it, it's just part of my life. On Friday 19 November 2010 at 3:45pm there was an underground explosion at the Pike River coal mine. Pike River survivor five years on: 'I'm alive. 18:00 Gary Knowles, the District Commander and the man in charge, says police will resume air testing in the morning. We lived a pretty normal life - a pretty normal Kiwi life. Pike River survivor Russell Smith got his first close up look at his loader since the mine exploded ten years ago. 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. 7 Sep, 2011 5:30am. 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. Pike River Mine underground mine workers withdrawn after the presence of carcinogens found. In 2014 Worksafe's New Zealand Chief Inspector stated there were "no operational barriers to reentering the mine's tunnel." 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. July 2013: Pike River Coal is ordered to pay $3.41 million in reparation - $110,000 for the family of each victim and survivors. He thinks about Pike River on an hourly basis. 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. 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. 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. One of the things we need is an explosives expert underground. Smith has described the recovered loader as “a lost friend” that saved his life. 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. On the afternoon of Friday 19 November, men employed by the Pike River mine were underground alongside employees of five different contracting companies. Her other son, Ben, was among the victims. Nothing changed. They could have fallen unconscious like I did. July 31, 2012: VLI Drilling pleads guilty to three health and safety-related charges, and is later fined $46,800. August 2014: Solid Energy announces "potentially fatal risks" are still needed to be examined before attempting to enter. “It finally feels like we might be able to get some truth.”. "I still have dreams about it. Sonya Rockhouse said reaching the loader vindicated families who had fought for justice for years. “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. NEW ZEALAND Pike manager more concerned with rescuers' safety. 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.". Twenty-nine men lost their lives, and their bodies have not been recovered. As of July 2020 the recovery team has penetrated over 1.4 km into the mine and recovered four original rescue robots previously lost. November 28, 2010: Prime Minister John Key announces Royal Commission inquiry into the mine tragedy, to be chaired by High Court judge Graham Panckhurst. As on any workday, men entered and left the mine at different times. “If I hadn’t been in that [loader], I don’t know what would have happened. 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. They were in the stone access tunnel (drift), a distance from the pit bottom area where the main workplaces were located. Mine worker Bryan Heslip, Pike River widow Anna Osborne and mother Sonya Rockhouse after travelling 170m up the mine tunnel. The mine was sold to Solid Energy, and we thought that in buying the mine the Government would finally keep its leader's word. December 23, 2013: John Key apologises to the families for the role that "lack of regulatory effectiveness played in the tragedy.". 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. Nearly six years on, Rockhouse's life has changed immeasurably. RNZ 8,117 views. Police have been accused of endangering potential survivors and jeopardising a body recovery operation by refusing to seal the explosion-hit Pike River 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. Two Pike River fathers say they’ve uncovered evidence that shows people may have survived the first and even the second explosion at the West … But there was stunned anger in December 2013 when all 12 health and safety charges against Whittall were dropped after he and Pike River Coal offered a voluntary payment of $3.41 million, seeing $110,000 given to each of the families and two survivors. I was 1.8km in the mine when it blew. 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. He lost consciousness, but woke up and was able to make his way out. “If that hadn’t delayed me, I would have been up a lot further and you wouldn’t be talking to me today.”. 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. 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"Without a doubt in my mind, there are people in that mine that survived that first explosion, just like I did. Pike River survivor tells his story. The Government is also criticised for watering down regulations and the mining inspectorate. Experts and mine rescue are saying it's safe enough to reclaim the drift so why not let us see what we can find? Two men survived the explosion. "There could be a couple of bodies sitting in that drift right now on this side of the fall." 5 minutes to read . “We have done an extreme amount of work over the past 18 months. 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. We've had a lot of time to think while we've been at the gate. We waited and waited, and the Pike River Royal Commision of Inquiry found many massive failures behind the disaster that killed our boys. Between the whole world and whatever evidence of what happened is down there. Inside Pike River: Interactive graphic shows extent of disaster Russell Smith suffocated in the first explosion, only to survive - dragged out of the mine by Daniel Rockhouse. That the government keeps faith with them. September 29, 2010: Peter Whittall sacked as chief of Pike River Coal. "If the advice that they now seem to be receiving is accurate ... then what possible impediment is there to go and check that out. 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. 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. The friends were the only two men who came out alive after the explosion ripped through the West Coast coal mine, leaving 29 trapped inside - where they remain today. But nobody was held to account. Smith’s loader was towed out on Tuesday night by the Pike River Recovery Agency. 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. He was right on one count. The gases inside the mine remain volatile, preventing recovery of the bodies. At the time of the explosion, Rockhouse was slammed against the side of the mine. 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 … "I think they've just tried to ease us into it by delaying it and pushing it back and back year after year. Prime Minister John Key pledged $10 million for the re-entry if the plan was safe, technically feasible and financially credible. Being underground makes him feel connected to his brother Ben Rockhouse, who died - along with 28 others - at Pike River. January 14, 2010: Police abandon attempts to recover the 29 bodies. Rockhouse made his way out of the mine after a … He'd like to sit down in a room with John Key. ", Protest at Pike River mine urges sealing to be called off, Vigil at Pike River for husbands and sons. But his mother continued to battle. Although initially overcome, Daniel Rockhouse rescued himself and his colleague Russell Smith. Supplied / Pike River Recovery A. Their names and details appear on pages 4–5 (see: Pike River mine memorial). Pike River survivor Daniel Rockhouse believes it's safe to enter: RNZ Checkpoint - Duration: 6:30. Families of the victims respond furiously to the penalty. 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Royal Commission found the disaster was a preventable tragedy, but it could not pinpoint the actual cause of the explosions. He soon lost conscious… He's like answers, closure, even an apology. He was a coal cutter at Pike River and was late for work the day of the explosion. Smith said the loader took the force of the blast as he hunkered down behind the door of the vehicle when the explosion and debris ripped past him. Nick Smith's announcement to delay the final closure of the mine was bittersweet for Daniel Rockhouse. Pike River survivor Daniel Rockhouse returns to the coalface. Pike River survivor Russell Smith and Pike River family members Sonya Rockhouse and Anna Osborne talk about an important milestone in the … The company first listed and began trading on the New Zealand Exchange on 20 July 2007. He and his fiancee live in Christchurch with his five-year-old daughter whom his then wife was carrying at the time of the disaster. Why wouldn't you give it a go?". Daniel Rockhouse, 24, lost his younger brother Ben in the Pike River coal mine on November 19 when an explosion killed 29 men. "I get that people are sick of hearing about it. He was on the phone asking lots of questions about how they got it out and what condition it was in,” she said. 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. We've got a caravan and a couple of BBQs, people have been bringing us food and aroha, occasionally the plainclothes cop car swings by to keep an eye on us. I go to bed at night - my partner wakes up to find me shaking. I walked out of that mine pulling another guy out with me. So this isn't just about our boys and what happened. They're just kicking us in the guts once more.". A number of safety failings at Pike River are highlighted by witnesses. Pike River Coal Ltd was a mining company listed on the New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges. 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. As teams prepare for entry to Pike River, Daniel Rockhouse tells the story that changed his life. 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. 28 July 2020 progress update 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 … December 13, 2010: Pike River Coal placed in receivership. However, there are a lot of unknowns between then and now.”. John Key is confronted by Pike River families in Greymouth. What more can they do? 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. November 2013: Work begins to plug the mine's shaft. Rockhouse said the fight for answers had been traumatising, stressful and emotional - to the point where he had stepped away. The recovery of the loader went smoothly and to plan, Pattinson said. So why couldn't they have tried to escape? The team spent about 30 hours recovering it. Two of the 31 miners and contractors present escape. 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. 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. Its primary operation was the Pike River Mine, the site of a mining disaster with 29 deaths on 19 November 2010.. We'll be here for a while yet. Rockhouse’s loader will be the next large item recovered from the drift, expected at the end of August. Daniel Rockhouse was refilling his loader in the tunnel when he was blown off his feet by the explosion. 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. 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. But for now, he'll have to settle with this week's six-year memorial service to the 29 men who died, and who remain in the mine. The Ne… December 2013: The Crown announces that charges against former Pike River Coal boss Peter Whittall have been dropped. 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