New Zealand mine recovery abandoned

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The Independent Online

Efforts to recover the bodies of 29 miners from a coal mine that was hit by a series of explosions in November were abandoned yesterday.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad said it was too dangerous to attempt to find the bodies and he would not put additional lives at risk in the Pike River mine on South Island. Fire and volatile explosive gases have barred entry for nearly two months.

"The likelihood of getting into the mine safely is unrealistic because it is too unsafe," Mr Broad told reporters. "In my view, it is time to focus on the living and to respect and memorialise those men who have died."

The 29 miners were trapped after methane gas-fuelled explosions on 19 November.

Police said last week that dangerous gas levels had again built up in the mine, prompting the evacuation of rescue workers.