Sunday, November 21, 2010

Still waiting

No news isn't always good news. It's been two days now with no contact with the trapped miners and, it seems, precious little progress towards their rescue. The problem is the gas hanging in the tunnel, that could easily be ignited by a random spark caused by the rescue party; so they're kicking their heels above ground waiting for the painfully slow process of flushing the methane out of the mine.

It must be agonising for the families of the men, waiting and waiting, with nothing so far to fix their hopes on, and trying not to notice that, more and more, the media are using the word 'recovery'.

It's not, by a long chalk, the Coast's first mining disaster: it comes with the territory. The last big one though was back in 1967, when 19 were killed in an explosion at the Strongman Mine. Of the others, the worst is the one in the mural above, on the wall of the Greymouth Star newspaper building. The Brunner Mine explosion in 1896 killed 65 miners - imagine that.

The cause was fire damp - methane - which hadn't been adequately cleared by the ventilation system. Already attention has focused on problems with the ventilation in the Pike River Mine - which is working the Brunner coal seam. Plus ├ža change, eh?

2 comments:

the queen said...

I check Reuters every four hours. This is the point the old miners begin giving their oxygen to the young miners with families. Grim.

Pam said...

I don't want to sound feeble, but it's sort of a relief that the actuality is beyond imagination.

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