Underground camera finds 2 bodies from 2010 New Zealand mine disaster

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Nov. 17 (UPI) — More than a decade after New Zealand’s deadliest coal mine disaster in modern history trapped and killed nearly three dozen men, authorities said Wednesday that underground cameras have located at least two of the miners’ bodies.

Twenty-nine miners became trapped deep in the Pike River coal mine after an explosion on Nov. 19, 2010. Their bodies have never been recovered, partly because they are believed to be located in a deep part of the mine where dangerous methane gases have accumulated.

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The explosion was New Zealand’s deadliest mining disaster since 1914.

Wednesday, authorities said the two bodies were found while the underground camera was taking images last week through a new borehole.

Police Superintendent Pete Read said the remains, however, are probably unrecoverable because they are located in the “most remote” part of the coal mine.

“It’s a really stark reminder of the pain, of the loss but they add to a picture of investigation and hopefully they’ll go towards getting some answers to the families,” Read said, according to The Guardian.

Pike River recovery minister Andrew Little said the discovery could give officials some new clues as to why the blast occurred. Two additional miners were underground when the explosion happened, but they were close enough to walk out and received only minor injuries.

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An investigation into the disaster has been open for years and at least three people were initially charged in relation to the explosion, but no one was ever convicted in connection with the explosion and the miners’ deaths.

A royal commission ruled in 2012 that warnings over the safety of the mine were ignored and government regulators failed to carry out proper inspections. The mine was sealed shortly after the explosion.