If there is are grounds for criticism of how the recovery has been handled it could be that families might have been given false hope that if a recovery crew could get to where the men were there would be anything left to bring out.
Shortly after the second explosion there was talk about the need to use DNA for identification but the implications of that might not have been clear to everyone.
It’s human to hope even when it seems hopeless. While some of the families accepted the sad reality that they’d not see the men they’d lost again others kept hoping that first rescue and then recovery was possible.
Their anger at the end of the recovery efforts is understandable but for their own sakes they need to take a lead from those who have faced the facts and start looking forward.
As unpalatable as what Ele has blogged may be to some people, especially those closely linked to the Pike River tragedy, we concur with her. A fire has been burning in the mine for almost two months, reportedly at temperatures approaching 1000*C. We believe that it is highly unlikely that there will be anything human to retrieve.
In addition, we doubt that there will be much left in the mine of evidential value to police and coronial investigations, as well as for the Royal Commission. There may be remnants of heavy machinery, but that is likely to be all. Surely, if the police believed that there was material evidence to be gathered, they would still be controlling the site.
The Pike River families have gone through a terribly traumatic time since the initial explosion on Friday 19 November. One would not wish their heartache on anyone, and as a nation we have all hoped for some good news for them. Two months on however the Pike River mine is still unstable, and it would be foolish to risk further casualties. We'll leave the final word to Phil Glover:
Glover said if a retrieval team did make it underground, the dark, cramped and volatile conditions they would have to work under would make the task of finding human remains virtually impossible.
“I don’t know how I would feel if it was one of my family down there, but the practical side of me would be saying that this is their last resting place.”