TODAY |

Family members of Pike River victims travel into main drift of mine

The first few Pike River family members have travelled into the main drift at Pike River Mine.

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It was the first time families of the 29 victims were taken almost 200 metres inside the disaster site. Source: 1 NEWS

Five family members, including Sonya Rockhouse, boarded a mine vehicle to travel the first 170 metres of the main entrance tunnel.

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

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

Today is the last chance families have to enter the area before full recovery of the 2.3 kilometre tunnel begins.

It was an emotional moment for the families today as it was the closest they have come to their lost men, since the explosion happened.

They carried bunches of flowers inside for the journey, which took them to the seal at 170 metres.

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Ms Osborne, who lost her husband in the West Coast disaster spoke with John Campbell today. Source: Breakfast

The personal nature of the trip aside, it is also a hugely significant moment for the recovery operation as it shows the first phase is now complete.

They have cleared the first barrier, at 30 metres, and today’s trip shows the mine's crew now believe it is safe to breach the second seal at 170 metres and finally re-enter the 2.3 kilometre-long access tunnel, also known known as a drift.

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It’s the closest they’ve been to their men since the mine explosions in November, 2010. Source: 1 NEWS

All they need now is the clearance from WorkSafe who have now been sent the final health and safety documentation.

Several groups of family members will make the journey throughout the day.