Pike River: Grief still 'raw' in the West Coast

By Catherine Masters

A miner pauses for a moment's silence at the White Knight Bridge near the entrance to the Pike River mine. Photo / NZPA
A miner pauses for a moment's silence at the White Knight Bridge near the entrance to the Pike River mine. Photo / NZPA

Grief and shock over the Pike River mine tragedy has stretched though all the West Coast's towns.

In Westport, 100km north of Greymouth, Jenny Anderson from the Information Centre said the town of about 6000 was stunned when news of an explosion first broke, but people were now at the stage of accepting the tragedy and beginning to deal with it.

Buses were being organised to take mourners to the memorial in Greymouth on Thursday.

"It's terrible; we're a mining town too," she said.

"It brings it home just how vulnerable we all are."

The mine near Westport is Stockton, which is open-cast and not as dangerous, she said.

Outside the ASB in the main street a condolence book has been left on a table, at which people are stopping and signing.

Messages such as "will miss you all so much", and "thinking of you in your pain and grief" have been repeated over and over.

A memorial was held at the clock tower in the main street on Sunday night and several hundred people attended.

A dozen bunches of flowers have been placed on the old council building steps.

Two burly Stockton miners in the street say they will definitely go to the memorial service in Greymouth.

Their advice to make mining safer: "Do what they do here: shift the snails and take the top off the hill."

A woman from the tiny mining community of Charleston, about 25km south of Westport and home to only about 40 or 50 people, said Stockton and all the mines in the area were being closed on Thursday so people could go to the memorial.

"It's still very raw for a lot of people," she said.

- NZ Herald

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