Two further sets of remains found at Pike River mine

Source: 1News

Two further sets of human remains have been identified at the Pike River mine, bringing the total number to eight.

Pathologists have reviewed images that were captured during drilling of the West Coast mine as part of a criminal investigation into the explosions that killed 29 men in 2010.

The first remains were identified in November.

These latest images were taken during the final round of drilling, which was done in a part of the mine where it is believed three men were working at the time of the explosion.

The family members of those killed in the mine have been aware of the existence of one of these sets of remains since 2011.

Detective Superintendent Peter Read, who is in charge of the criminal investigation, says the drilling operation that began in 2019, has given police "valuable information" into the underground activity that led to the first explosion.

“While the discovery of these eight sets of remains is significant, I’m very aware that it still leaves many unanswered questions for the men’s loved ones, and my thoughts are with all of the families today," says Read.

“While the drilling operation has concluded, work on the criminal investigation is ongoing.”

Pike River

Representatives for the families of the men killed in the mine say this latest discovery is emotional but will help many find closure.

“What is giving us some comfort is that now, as we get to the end of the project and the mine is sealed, we’re getting real answers about what had happened there," says Anna Osborne - whose husband Milton was killed in the mine.

“Just to see that our men fell where they stood and didn’t suffer for hours or more is so important.”

“This has taken a long time, but it’s never too late for justice," says Rowdy Durbridge, who lost his son, Daniel Herk.

"I reckon my boy - all the boys I worked with - would be proud of the work done by families and the agency and the police to help put this to rights. We’re thankful of that work.”

However, some family members remain critical of how the response to the disaster is being handled.

"Sealing a mine and then going looking for bodies is a bit backward don’t you think?" asks Dean Dunbar, whose son Joseph is the youngest Pike River victim.

Dunbar says while some families still have faith in the police and their investigation. He has this message for those in charge.

“When are you going to allow me to view footage of my boy? When are you going to allow me to bring that footage home, which is the only thing I will have to bring home of Joseph? And who are you going to charge with what, what criminal charges are you going to lay and against whom and when are you going to do it?"