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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Rescuers to lower camera to seek trapped New Zealand miners

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Rescuers were preparing Monday to lower a camera and listening device down a newly drilled borehole to discover if 29 miners trapped underground since a gas explosion five days ago in New Zealand were still alive.

    As day broke, authorities said the drillers were in the final stages of completing the 162-meter deep, 6-inch hole in the area where the missing men were thought to be when the blast hit the Pike River mine on Friday.

    Nothing has been heard from them since then. Rescue parties of fellow miners have been on standby throughout, but police said the risk of another explosion made it too dangerous to let them go in.

    Police Chief Gary Knowles conceded Monday for the first time that at least some of the men may not have survived the blast in the mine on the west coast of the South Island.

    “”We are preparing for all outcomes and also as part of this process, we are planning for the possible loss of life as a result of what’s occurred underground,”” he told a news conference.

    Knowles told Radio New Zealand Tuesday the expected release of gas once the drill broke through the surface would be tested immediately and a camera, microphone and laser device capable of mapping the area lowered.

    An army robot has been equipped with four cameras and will be sent by remote control into the mine’s 1.4 mile access tunnel as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.

    Knowles said tests were still indicating a heat source of some sort in the mine, possibly a low-smoldering fire.

    Names of the missing men were released by police for the first time on Monday.

    They include Joseph Dunbar, who was on his first shift down the mine, one day after celebrating his 17th birthday. He was not supposed to start work until Monday but was so enthusiastic about his first job that he convinced his boss to let him begin early.

    The eldest is 62-year-old Keith Thomas Valli.

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