Our weekend was interrupted with the news on Friday of the explosion in the Pike River Coal mine, north of Greymouth. My wife was sent off to Greymouth on Saturday morning, to prepare to assist local counsellors, who will be available to provide support for the affected families over the coming weeks. We are praying that they will not have too much to do! As I write this however the situation looks very grim indeed.
It is distressingly similar to the Brunner mine disaster back in 1896 where a methane explosion and the generation of massive quantities of carbon monoxide caused 65 fatalities. I wrote a post on the Brunner Mine back in August, following it up with some pictures from Blackball.
Imagine how the miners working in other mines must feel. While waiting to learn the fate of their comrades at Pike River, many will be back down their own mines this week. Methane is an ever-present hazard in those coal mines, which must be managed well. It takes a strong character (as well as the support of mates) to be able to handle such situations.