New Zealand has been going through a slow-motion tragedy this week. 29 miners have been lost in a West Coast coalmine since Friday afternoon. The whole country has been in suspense since then, watching for news, hoping despite the probabilities, waiting for a rescue attempt. But gas levels and temperatures have remained too high to permit anyone to enter the mine safely.
And then this afternoon, a second explosion. All hope is now gone.
I was very pessimistic about their chances for survival given the carbon monoxide levels, but it’s one thing to be pessimistic and quite another to have the worst confirmed in such a brutal, abrupt way. I can’t even imagine how devastating this must be for the families of the lost men.
It’s been a tough tough year in the South Island – earthquakes, a plane crash, and now a major mining accident. Greymouth is a small place – 29 deaths will have a huge impact on everyone in town, as will the closure (whether temporary or permanent) of the mine.