Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Men of Pike River Mine, Westland, Aotearoa/New Zealand

 The Men Of Pike

They came from near and far away
The men of Pike to work that day.
The afternoon shift way down deep
Beneath the mountains oh so steep,
A long way in but further out
The afternoon shift sets about.

A job not flash but hard and trying,
A job that holds the risk of dying.

From seventeen to sixty two
They start their shift to see it through,
For one his first, for all their last
How could they know there’d be a blast?

For all at once no siren whining
Suddenly the worst in mining -
Dust and rubble fill the air,
A loader driver thrown clear,
Just one other finds the light,
The rest are hidden from our sight,

And so we learn as news is spread
The news that mining families dread,
It’s up at Pike there’s an explosion
Faces drop and hearts are frozen
Who, how many, where and why ---
Will they make it ---- will they die?

Fathers, husbands, brothers, sons
Coasters, Kiwis, Aussies, Poms
Mates and friends who we are seeking -

Could robots work where men are mortal
To pierce the dangers of that portal?

But alas, all effort fails
The darkness of the mine prevails
A second blast of rock and thunder -
Hope and prayers are rent asunder.

A nation weeps and Coasters mourn
Pike falls silent, dark, forlorn.

A hole remains within the ground
Devoid of joy, of life, of sound
Another hole within the heart
Of those forever set apart
From those they loved who went to toil
Digging coal beneath the soil
Those who gave their lives that day
To work a shift for honest pay
They wait at rest within their mine
The men of Pike, the Twenty Nine.

Sean Plunket

In remembrance for the twenty-nine men who were killed in the Pike River Mine Disaster. The first explosion happened on the 19th November, 2010 at about 3.44pm. Thirty-one men were inside the mine at that time, two escaped and were treated for moderate injuries. The remaining twenty-nine men were believed to be at least 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) from the mine entrance. This initial explosion damaged the mine's gas drainage line, causing methane gas to begin accumulating in the mine immediately. As there may have been a potential ignition source, it was too dangerous for rescuers to enter the mine and would probably be too dangerous for several days. A second explosion occurred at 2:37pm on the 24th November, 2010. At that point, Police Superintendent Gary Knowles said he believed no one could have survived. The second explosion sent smoke, soot and explosive gases up a mine shaft where a team of rescue staff had been taking samples; the noise of the rising explosion provided them enough warning to escape. They were very lucky I think. Then there was a third explosion which occurred at 3:39pm on the 26th November. A fourth explosion ignited the coal within the mine; the subsequent fire was visible above the ventilation shaft; the steel structure above the shaft was damaged and neighbouring scrub set alight.

A service was held at the Holy Trinity Church in Greymouth, where hundreds of people gathered to mourn the loss of the workers on the 24th of November.

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