A fully-clothed body lying face down may have been identified inside New Zealand’s Pike River mine, where 29 workers were killed.
An expert told investigators that early indications were that one of three equipment boxes, thought to contain fire fighting equipment, appears to be open. The miners were originally belived to have died instantly after the first of a series of explosions in the shaft.
About 50 family members were notified of the discovery at a meeting in Greymouth about 5pm yesterday.
Family spokesman Bernie Monk told NZPA family learned a possible body was identified inside the mine, and that one of three rescue boxes inside the mine had been was opened.
“The family are gutted. Some of them were struggling to hold their tears back, as I am sometimes,” he said.
“We spent up until midnight contacting all the people overseas with teleconferences.”
Assistant Police Commissioner Grant Nicholls said videos of the mine taken in February had revealed a possible body.
“Initially it was unclear as to the nature of an object in the mine and it appeared after Electronic Crime Laboratory enhancement improbable that the image was that of a body.”
Police asked senior forensic pathologist Dr Martin Sage for an expert opinion.
Sage believed the shape was “suspiciously that of a body”, Nicholls said.
“An important next step is to arrange with a suitable expert in technology to further enhance the scan images so that better information is available to police,” he said.
“Police are also investigating getting a different type of camera, imported from the United States, to be lowered into borehole 47 and to try and get better images.”
Monk said the discoveries were giving families hope and purpose to press harder for a recovery process.
“The re-entry process is going nowhere,” he said.