A broken Peter Whittall today had to give the families of 29 men trapped in the Pike River coal mine since Friday the worst news possible -- that they were all dead.
Mr Whittall, the chief executive of Pike River Coal, was visibly upset as he told a press conference he had fronted to the families to give them the news.
``It was hard obviously,'' the former miner said.
``They've looked to me for hope and they've looked to me for keeping them informed and to let them know what's going on, which I've tried to do as factually and clearly as I could right the way through.''
He was at pains to point out that the explosion was not caused by anybody working in or around the mine.
``The police can now deal with what's going on. They're still responsible (for the scene),'' Mr Whittall said.
``But it was my task and I wanted to tell the families.''
Mr Whittall then turned, in tears, to be embraced by family before leaving the room.