It now seems inevitable that all the trapped miners at Pike River have perished, even if they survived the first explosion. There was a second massive explosion at 2.27pm this afternoon.
Words fail us. This is not the outcome that anyone wanted, but it has increasingly been the outcome we have all feared. Our deepest condolences and our thoughts and prayers go out to all the whanau of the trapped miners. Nothing that we say can be of any consolation to them, except to remind them that we grieve with them tonight.
Grey District's mayor Tony Kokshoorn has described this as "the West Coast's darkest hour", and it's hard to disagree. This is a tragedy of great dimension, made worse because it has occurred in such a small and tight-knit community. As we type this Peter Williams is interviewing Gerry Brownlee on One News, and both men are close to tears. There will be a huge outpouring of grief no doubt.
Now is not the time to apportion blame. There will be no end of inquiries over the coming months, and that is where the tough questions should be asked. It's not for us armchair experts to point the finger of blame. We do think though that it is now time for the news media to pull out of Greymouth and to let the locals grieve in peace.