Rescuers drill into shaft of New Zealand's coal mine, explosions possible

42429.jpegOfficials at a coal mine on New Zealand's West Coast where 29 men are missing after an explosion last week are preparing for possible loss of life as rescuers drill into the shaft to test for toxic gases.

Teams are close to completing the bore hole at the Pike River Coal Co. mine near Greymouth on the nation's South Island and plan to send a robot equipped with a remote camera into the tunnel, police commander Gary Knowles told reporters today, Business Week reports.

The miners--24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and a South African--have been missing since the blast occurred in the Pike River Coal mine -- located in the heart of New Zealand's coal industry about 31 miles (50 kilometers) north-east of Greymouth -- at 4:30 p.m. local time (0330 GMT) on Friday.

There has been no contact with the miners since then. Rescue crews' effort to reach the miners were hampered by dangerous levels of methane and carbon monoxide inside the mine.

Superintendent Gary Knowles, the police officer in charge of the operation, said it was still a search-and-rescue mission and expressed optimism of finding the trapped men alive. But at the same time, he said that they were planning for all outcomes as also for the possible loss of life.

Prime Minister John Key said there is "every chance" the men are still alive, according to RTT News.


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