At least two sets of human remains have been captured inside a New Zealand coal mine where an explosion 11 years ago killed 29 miners.
New Zealand Police announced on Nov. 17 that cameras captured some human remains at the furthest reaches of the Pike River mine from the entrance and a possible third set in the tunnel.
However, police said they will not be able to recover the remains due to their location.
“These images will add to the picture of the investigation as we work to provide answers for the families,” Detective Superintendent Peter Read said.
“At this point, we have been unable to identify the remains, however, we will consult with forensic experts. Based on our investigation we believe there were six to eight men working in the area where the remains have been located,” Read also said.
Read also said that police will not release the images at this time due to the ongoing investigation and “out of respect to the families.”
Andrew Little, the minister responsible for the recovery operation, said that the remains were “unlikely” to be removed.
“I know some families would like to go further, but that won’t be possible,” Little said.
Little added that the Pike River agency has reached the end of its budget.
In November 2010, a blast — believed to have been triggered by methane build-up — killed 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two British citizens, and one South African. It was one of the worst mining disasters in New Zealand.
Only two of the 31 miners working on the afternoon shift escaped the disaster.
None of the bodies have been recovered and no one has been successfully prosecuted over the disaster.
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