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Family members of Pike River disaster victims have chance to enter mine

Family members of the 29 men who died in the Pike River Mine disaster have been invited to go underground to the 170-metre barrier next week.

The invitation has been extended by the Pike River Recovery Agency and is set for Thursday October 3 if weather permits.

The agency says it will transport family members – aged 15 and over – in a driftrunner up to the 170m barrier in groups with an experienced agency guide, starting at 9am.

Each visit to the barrier is estimated to last around 20 minutes.

On November 19, 2010, 29 men working in the mine died after an explosion at the West Coast site.

The mine re-entry began on May 21 this year.

On that day, Anna Osborne, who lost her husband Milton in the explosion, said outside the mine: "It's actually quite emotional seeing these families turning up knowing that it is actually going to happen today and that plug is going to be pulled from the seal.

"We've all been through so much and this is the start of something good for the families, finally, and I'm sure a lot of them will be quite relieved to know that today is actually happening."

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The doors at the doomed West Coast mine have been opened, eight years after 29 men lost their lives. Source: 1 NEWS

Sonya Rockhouse, who lost her son Ben in the mine disaster, added, "I just can't believe it's finally here. It's just the most weirdest feeling."

"It's been a long time, and we've stood on this road many times – many, many times – and just felt nothing but despair and no hope, and now, I can look up at those mountains and think, 'crikey, you know, we're almost here."

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Today contractors worked on removing a 30m concrete barrier into the mine. Source: 1 NEWS