Flames burn from a ventilation shaft above the Pike River mine on Nov 30, 2010, where 29 miners are fatally trapped, in Greymouth, New Zealand. (IAIN MCGREGOR / NZPA VIA AP / FILE)
WELLINGTON – Human remains have been found in a New Zealand coal mine, police said on Wednesday, more than a decade after one of the country's worst industrial disasters.
Twenty-nine men were killed after a series of blasts ignited by methane gas ripped through the Pike River mine on the west coast of the South Island in November 2010. Two men managed to escape.
The mine was shuttered and entry barred for years because of safety concerns. Investigators were eventually allowed access in 2019 following calls from the families of the miners.
Police said images taken late last week during deep boring in the mine confirmed two bodies, with the possibility of a third. However, the remains were far from the mine entrance and could not be recovered.
"While we have been unable to identify the remains, we are working with forensic experts to see what we can do to confirm their identities," said Detective Superintendent Peter Read.
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Investigators believe there were six to eight people working in the area where the remains were found, he added.