Pike River Mine: Further human remains have been discovered

Families of the 29 Pike River Mine victims have been told images captured through a new borehole show evidence of further human remains.

The significant development comes just a month after police confirmed two sets of human remains, and a possible third, had been captured on camera in the farthest reaches of the mine.

The new images, taken in the area of One West Mains which is described as "the western extremities of the mine workings", have been reviewed by pathologists. 

They are said to show two sets of probable human remains and one set of possible human remains. Pictures from the drilling programme are not currently being released out of respect to the families and as a criminal investigation is ongoing. 

Five men are believed to have been working in the One West Mains area when the explosion in Pike River Mine, near Greymouth, occurred on November 19, 2010. Two men were able to escape, but 29 never left.

"My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the men lost at the mine as they process this latest discovery," Detective Superintendent Peter Read said in a statement

"The search for answers over the last 11 years has been a long and painful journey for the families and my heart goes out to them."

This borehole drilling programme began in June and was originally scheduled to end on the Friday just past. However, police say that this week they received approval for the drilling of an additional borehole at the mine, allowing the programme to continue into the New Year.

"Approval for the additional borehole was sought following a site visit and scoping work undertaken by geotechnical engineers in early December, which identified a suitable additional drilling site," said Det Supt Read.

"It is imperative that we do everything possible to provide the men's loved ones with as much knowledge as possible about what happened that day, and the drilling of the additional borehole will give police valuable information to assist the investigation into the cause of the explosion."

He acknowledged Pike River Recovery Agency staff and drilling and mining experts who have supported the borehole operation.

"Their assistance has been invaluable to police staff working at the mine site since February 2019."

Due to the location of the remains found in November, police said at the time that they could not be recovered. 

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 more than 11 years ago, families have repeatedly fought to honour the 29 who died in the explosion.