Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Police arrest S. Korea ferry captain for negligence

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Video: Tensions remain high in Mariupol despite Geneva deal

    Read more

  • In Prijedor, survivors fight to keep memory alive

    Read more

  • Deadly avalanche strikes Everest in worst-ever disaster

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • Eurostar train mishap causes 'severe' delays

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton announces she's pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Hopes fade for Kiwi miners after robot mission fails

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-23

Hopes are fading for the 29 miners trapped below ground in New Zealand’s South Island after an air quality testing robot short-circuited in the exploded pit on Tuesday, leaving the rescue team unable to venture underground in case of toxic gases.

AP - A bomb-disposal robot sent underground to learn the fate of 29 workers missing for four days in a New Zealand coal mine swirling with toxic gas short-circuited and failed Tuesday, sending hopes for their survival even lower.

Rescuers had another setback Tuesday when a team boring a narrow passage to an area deep underground where the miners might be struck hard rock that slowed the drilling.
 
Prime Minister John Key became the latest official to express the growing pessimism over whether the miners could have survived during the aftermath of the massive blast that ripped through the Pike River mine on Friday.
 
“We hope and pray that the missing men are alive and well,” Key said in a solemn address to Parliament on Tuesday. “But given we have not had contact with the men for nearly four days, the situation remains grave. Although we must stay optimistic, police are now planning for the possible loss of life.”
 
Army specialists deployed a remote-controlled robot into the mine overnight Monday. It was supposed to crawl more than 1 ½ miles (2.5 kilometers) carrying sophisticated air quality testing equipment and a camera and give the first clues to the status of the men inside.
 
But water got into the robot sometime within the first two hours of its operation and it went out of commission, said police superintendent Gary Knowles, the head of the rescue operation. Replacement robots were being requested from West Australia and the United States.
 
A buildup of methane gas is the suspected cause of the explosion. And now the presence of that gas and others - some of them believed to be coming from a smoldering fire deep underground - have prevented rescue teams from entering the mine because of fears they could still explode.
 
“I won’t send people in to recover a robot if their lives are in danger,” Knowles told reporters. “Toxicity is still too unstable to send rescue teams in.”
 
A 500-foot (160-meter)-long shaft is being drilled toward an area where the miners may be. Once completed, the shaft will sample gas levels and determine if rescuers waiting impatiently can finally move in. Rescuers also want to drop a listening device down the hole to see if they can hear anything - such as tapping sounds - that might indicate that the miners are still alive.
 
A diamond-tipped drill came within 33 feet (10 meters) of the tunnel where some of the miners may be before progress was slowed by hard rock.
 
“This is a very serious situation and the longer it goes on, hopes fade, and we have to be realistic. We will not go underground until the environment is safe,” Knowles said.
 
Two workers stumbled out of the mine within hours of the explosion, but there has been no contact at all with the remaining 29. A phone line deep inside the mine has rung unanswered.
 
“The families are showing grief, frustration and probably anger,” said Laurie Drew, whose 21-year-old son, Zen, is among the missing. “I have my moments I can keep it together but deep down my heart’s bleeding like everybody else’s.”
 
Those missing include a teenager who was so excited about his new job he persuaded mine bosses to let him start his first shift three days early - on the day of the explosion - his mother told local media.
 
Joseph Dunbar was one day past his 17th birthday and the youngest of the miners.
 
His mother, Philippa Timms, said the wait to begin the rescue bid had been frustrating, but that she understood why it was taking so long.
 
“They can’t just rush in there because, I know right from the word go, I know how it works,” she said. “If the oxygen rushes in and it hits that methane, then bam, they’re gone, another blast.”
 
Police have said the miners, aged 17 to 62, are believed to be about 1 mile (two kilometers) down the tunnel.
 
Each miner carried 30 minutes of oxygen, and more fresh air was stored in the mine, along with food and water that could allow them to survive for several days, officials say.
 
New Zealand’s mines are generally safe. A total of 181 people have been killed in the country’s mines in 114 years. The worst disaster was in March 1896, when 65 died in a gas explosion. Friday’s explosion occurred in the same coal seam.

 

Date created : 2010-11-23

Comments

COMMENT(S)