Pike River: Nearly 11 years since disaster, human remains have been discovered in mine

In one of the most significant recovery developments since the devastating Pike River explosion nearly 11 years ago, human remains have been discovered in the mine.

Police on Wednesday said two sets of human remains - and possibly a third - had been captured on camera after additional boreholes were drilled in the mine.

The remains were discovered in the farthest reaches of the mine from the entrance. The remains can't be recovered by police due to the location, the statement said.

"It has been nearly 11 years since the Pike River Mine disaster where 29 men tragically lost their lives," Det Supt Peter Read said. "These images will add to the picture of the investigation as we work to provide answers for the families.

"Based on our investigation we believe there were 6-8 men working in the area where the remains have been located."

Forensic experts will now be consulted as the remains have yet to be identified.

Out of respect for the families, police said the images captured in the mine would not be released.

"I would like to acknowledge the support from Pike River Recovery Agency staff and our drilling and mining experts who have supported the borehole drilling operation and assisted us with this discovery," said Read.

Rowdy Durbridge, whose son Daniel Herk died in the mine, said the discovery was a shock.

"We've fought hard for years now to get justice for our boys and this is part of it happening.

"This is why we worked so hard to negotiate these boreholes and we'll be supporting the police in whatever way we can to take this further if it needs to happen."

Anna Osbourne's husband Milton was among the 29 killed in the 2010 explosion. She said the discovery has given them clarity.

"This is an incredibly emotional day for all of us," she said in a statement. "We can't talk about the details of what we've seen because we don't want to put any future prosecution at risk, but we can say that what we've seen is starting to give real clarity about what happened down there."

The Pike River Recovery Agency, earlier this year, successfully recovered the mine's drift but was due to be sealed off after the police had completed the borehole investigations - something the families had been protesting against

In June, the families filed for a judicial review challenging the Government's rejection of a plan to continue searching the mine for evidence. 

Since the devastating explosion nearly 11 years ago, families have repeatedly fought to honour the 29 who died in the explosion. 

Thirty-one workers were inside the Greymouth site when it was rocked by the explosion, with only two men able to escape.