The news that some of the trapped miners survived the initial blast does not come as a surprise. As with many issues, we were primed for this news last year when grainy images of opened self-rescue boxes and bodies were shown.
The second explosion has been described as "unsurvivable". In spite of an overwhelming desire to hope "it was over quickly", (which is a form of making the best of a very bad situation) part of me knows that people, and especially miners, are very resourceful. I can't dismiss the possibility that some of the Pike River 29 died of thirst, starvation or something else while waiting to be rescued.
On the subject of rescue I can only speculate as to whether the correct decision was made. Certainly it prevented further deaths; we can only be sure rescue was possible once the bodies are recovered.
The priorities I would like to see are:
· The bodies of the miners returned to their families for proper burials.
· The people responsible held to account. I expect this will include criminal charges and gaol sentences.
· The Commission of Inquiry completed so that not only are the facts found, but also the stories of the miners and their families told.
· Improvements to mine safety through better design and operation standards. This is an area where we need to catch up with Australia, and could do so by adopting their rules and regulations.
· The fate of the mine determined, either via abandonment or a partial or full re-opening, because I am not against mining, as long as it is done well.