Do you have any information you can share?
Email us here

We bring you the latest updates from the West Coast where 29 miners are trapped inside the Pike River coal mine.

That concludes our latest updates for Wednesday November 24.
nzherald.co.nz will have the latest news and analysis on the Pike River mine blast tragedy tomorrow.

8.27pm:

Prime Minister John Key is looking at the possibility of having two memorials to mark the deaths of the miners.

Mr Key says planning has not yet started, but his intention is to have one memorial in Greymouth and another national memorial, probably in Christchurch.

Advertisement

8.25pm:

Hundreds of people have gathered at Holy Trinity Church in Greymouth, following this afternoon's confirmation the 29 Pike River miners are dead.

Those among the congregation include Pike River CEO Peter Whittall. He has been hugged by Daniel Rockhouse - one of the two men who walked out of the mine after Friday's explosion.

Daniel's brother Ben Rockhouse is one of the men who lost their lives in the mine.

The Reverend Marge Tefft says it is a devastating day and she has paid tribute to Peter Whittall.

8.13pm:

Flags will fly at half mast in Victoria on Thursday in tribute to the 29 miners presumed to have died at the Pike River mine.

Premier John Brumby says flags will be lowered on all government buildings out of respect for the miners - including two Australians - who perished in the tragedy.

Advertisement

8.11pm:

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn announces he is setting up a Mayoral Fund for victims of the Pike River mining tragedy.

He says the 29 miners' families need "all the help they can get".

Donations can be sent to the Grey District Council.

8.09pm:

News of the Pike River mine disaster is headlining news websites around the world.

The Australian

leads with "

, the

with "All miners are dead" and

The Age

with

South Africa's Independent has the headline

.

The BBC is leading on the tragedy with the headline

and it is second on the

.

The tragedy leads the world section of

and is second on the

.

7.57pm:

Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand says grief from the deaths of the 29 Pike River mine workers "will be felt for many years to come".

He says he and his wife Susan learned of the deaths with "deep sadness".

"This is a disaster that will be felt at many levels. First and foremost, it is a great personal loss for the individual families and friends of those who died.

"The wider West Coast community will also feel keenly the loss of those they have known as friends, neighbours and workmates.

"There will be few on the West Coast who do not have a shared connection of some kind with those on whom this tragedy has impacted most directly."

Sir Anand says the commitment and dedication of those involved in the search and rescue operation will be deeply appreciated.

"To the families and people of the West Coast: may you all support each other in the knowledge that the wider New Zealand community grieves alongside you."

7.48pm:

Maori Party MP Rahui Katene says she can't express how sad news of the disaster is.

"I can't imagine what the [families] are going through at this time. It must be so devastating for them," she says. "Hopes have gone now, but we still pray for the families to get through this."

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says the Greens are deeply distressed.

"We are just thinking of the families and hope that at some point it will be safe enough to retrieve the bodies."

ACT Party leader Rodney Hide says his party is grieving along with the rest of the country.

"Our hearts also go out to the wider West Coast community for whom mining has long been an integral part of life. There is no one on the West Coast who has not been affected deeply by this tragedy in some way."

7.29pm

The father of one of the miners in the Pike River mine says he is still hopeful of a miracle.

Zen Drew's father Lawrie tells TVNZ he is still wearing his son's jacket, which he donned after the explosion on Friday.

"I've so proud of him, as a Dad but I feel I let him down because I didn't protect him," Mr Drew said.

He says families just want the bodies of their loved ones back so they can get closure.

Moreover, Mr Drew says he wants a full inquiry into the disaster.

7.26pm

Police Commissioner Howard Broad pays tribute to the search and rescue operation run for the 29 miners lost at the Pike River coal mine.

"In my view, this was a professional and thoroughly detailed operation."

He condemns media who criticised Tasman police district commander Gary Knowles as a "country cop".

"To be subjected to that kind of abuse I thought was disgraceful. Gary Knowles is a highly successful police officer of 30 years."

"Superintendent Gary Knowles has had an extraordinarily difficult role, one of the most challenging police roles that I've seen encountered in my entire career."

7.22pm:

Solid Energy issues a statement of support to the victims of the Pike River mine disaster.

CEO Don Elder says: "Our staff at Solid Energy have asked me to convey their deepest sympathy and support for the families of the 29 Pike River miners and for all our colleagues and communities on the West Coast."

7.10pm:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall tells

Close Up

how difficult it was to tell the missing miners' families of the second explosion.

He says they had been hopeful when he arrived to brief them on the latest rescue news.

"You could see their eyes light up and their faces light up... I had to wait until they'd stopped clapping to tell them."

"It was really hard today because I had gone in with the hope of being able to tell them we'd started the rescue operation."

"I was hoping to turn up today to tell them we were going into the pit

"The little hope that we had that there was someone there waiting for us just doesn't seem to be there any more."

7.03pm:

Queensland's Premier Anna Bligh says the Australian state's thoughts are with the families of the lost miners.

"Our thoughts are with the families, particularly of the Queenslanders."

Two Queensland men are among those who died in the accident - Joshua Adam Ufer, 25, and William John Joynson, 49.

Speaking to reporters outside a Queensland Resources Council function of 900 miners and business people in related industries she says the tragedy was a reminder that mining can be a very unsafe business.

6.58pm:

Police Minister Judith Collins tells Radio New Zealand the cause of the tragedy will have to be investigated.

"This is a massive tragedy on the West Coast."

But she says if police had not taken the advice of the 65 mining experts they had working for them there would have been dozens more casualties.

She says the police have been "going through hell".

6.52pm:

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn tells Radio New Zealand people have to pull together to support the families of the miners.

"We can't rest until we get those miners out of the mine and, you know, hand them to their loved ones. And that's what they want."

He says this is one of the West Coast's "darkest moments".

He says there was a lot of anger from relatives when they were informed of the second explosion but stresses none of it was directed at Pike River CEO Peter Whittall who is "an honest man".

6.50pm:

Labour's West Coast spokesman Damien O'Connor says the region will need to move past the tragedy.

"This tragedy has ended the lives of our miners, the hopes of their families and the aspirations of so many in our community from this mine," he says.

"It will be incredibly difficult to move on but we must."

6.47pm:

Prime Minister John Key tells a news conference he expects teams will not be sent into the mine to recover the bodies until it is safe.

"It would be my expectation that they would not go into the mine until they were satisfied that it was safe to do so."

He says the teams were not sent in earlier because the scene was too volatile.

He says he has full confidence in the rescuers who were "highly competent, brave men who knew what they were doing."

"It's nothing to do with the bravery it's all do with the fact that putting rescuers in the mine without the sign-off do do so would have been an unacceptable risk."

6.41pm:

John Key says he expects there will be a series of inquiries into the mine disaster but that he will need to take advice on what they would be.

Mr Key says "like every New Zealander I'd hoped for that miracle", but after footage of the first explosion realised it was less likely.

Still in his heart of hearts, he says he had hoped that some miners had made their way to safety.

"But its the finality of the second explosion that's ripped at the guts of the country."

6.40pm:

John Key says he would like to personally thank the rescue teams and engage with "others in the local community".

6.38pm:

Mr Key says he expects there will be a significant national service for the lost miners at Greymouth.

Usually such services take place at the closest large church he says.

6.38pm:

Prime Minister John Key tells media the advice the Government had right from the start of the disaster was that it was unsafe for rescuers to go into the mine.

He says ACC will play a large part in the financial compensation to the families.

6.37pm:

Prime Minister John Key describes the blast today as a "national tragedy."

"For the miner's families. For their workmates and friends. For their community and for the nation."

"New Zealand is a small country. A country where we are our brothers' keeper,so to lose this many brothers at once strikes an agonising blow," Mr Key says.

"There are 29 men whose faces and names we have come to know, who will never walk among us again."

On behalf of New Zealanders, he says he is sending condolences to those affected.

"New Zealand stands shoulder to shoulder with you though we cannot possibly feel this pain as you do. We have you in our hearts and our thoughts."

John Key praises those who had tried to rescue the trapped miners.

"From the moment of the first explosion they have spent every waking hour tirelessly working, searching for a way to bring these men home alive."

He says flags will be at half mast tomorrow.

"Let us not lose sight of really makes New Zealand great. We are a tough and resilient country."

6.32pm

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says the Government will press ahead with an inquiry into the Pike River Coal mine disaster, after a second massive methane explosion.

"We've got a lot of questions to ask. We've got to act pretty fast," she tells Radio New Zealand.

"There are a whole lot of questions and we want those answers."

6.28pm:

University of Canterbury geology senior lecturer David Bell tells

One News

methane was likely to have been the primary trigger for the explosion, along with other gases.

"Methane of course is a combustible gas within a certain percentage range."

6.27pm:

Labour leader Phil Goff says today's explosion was a "devastating shock" for the families and the entire community.

"We know that Coasters are brave and resilient and will band together as they work through this terrible time. But the community should know that the entire country will be mourning alongside them."

United Future leader Peter Dunne says the miners' families will be going through living hell but the country is behind them.

"For the whole country it's a matter of pulling together now and supporting them and helping get us through this awful event."

6.22pm:

The father of 21-year-old Zen Drew tells Sky News he is still clinging to hope his son may be alive, despite today's explosion.

He says he hopes rescuers can finally go down tonight.

Mr Drew says he wants closure but is still holding out for a miracle - he believed there was still a chance given the air pockets in the mine.

6.19pm:

The Chief Coroner confirms he will open a special inquiry into the Pike River mine disaster, starting tomorrow.

Judge Neil McLean says he will begin working on a process designed to help the immediate families of the miners.

He says it is too early to say whether an inquest will take place, given the fact that there will be multiple inquiries over time.

6.17pm:

West Tasman Coast MP Chris Auchinvole was there when the news was delivered and describes the family reaction as a "spontaneous outpouring of grief".

"You have to appreciate that when I walked in people were saying 'well Chris, it will be right this time' and in your heart of hearts you wish they [officials] had said that."

Mr Auchinvole says the tragedy will be felt throughout the tight-knit West Coast.

"It's probably a difficult thing to say at this stage but this type of tragedy is not new to the coast. It has been experienced in previous generations and indeed in the current generation."

6.13pm:

The Secretary of the EPMU, Andrew Little, has told Radio New Zealand it is believed the mine will be flooded with carbon dioxide in a process known as "gagging".

The carbon dioxide would clear all oxygen in the mine so that any fires would be extinguished and bodies could be retrieved.

Equipment would be brought over for the process from Australia.

6.06pm:

Prime Minister John Key will travel to the West Coast tomorrow in the hope he can meet with the families and give his condolences.

Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said the news "was devastating."

"This is one of those horrible moments in anyone's life that you never forget but for those people who have suffered a loss it's something they have to live with day after day."

He said there would be a range of inquiries into what happened at the mine and they would start "fairly immediately".

Mr Brownlee praised the handling of the incident by Peter Whittall as "impressive".

5.51pm:

Peter Whittall says he still wants the bodies of 29 of his men to be recovered from the mine where they died.

Recovery teams have still not entered the mine yet, as conditions remain unsafe, he says.

Readings from a borehole drilled into the mine were reading 95 percent methane earlier today.

5.37pm:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall says today's blast was "a larger, more significant" blast than Friday's incident and lasted about 30 seconds.

It underlined that the decision not to send rescue teams in straight away was the right one, Mr Whittall said.

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall said the authorities saved lives by not putting a rescue team into the mine

"All those who asserted they should just go in have been shown why they shouldn't have gone in.

"The men underground I'm sure would have understood that."

5.35pm:

Peter Whittall, Pike River's CEO, delivered the "devastating" news to families himself.

He said it was difficult but he wanted to be the one to tell them.

"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.

"It was my task and I wanted to tell the families."

He then turned, in tears, to be embraced by family before leaving the room.

5.25pm:

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn says rescue crews are now moving in to recover the 29 miners' bodies.

He said the second blast was twice as strong as the original.

5.19pm:

Mine safety expert David Feickert says the miners would have not felt the explosion.

"Chances are they became unconscious from the carbon monoxide and wouldn't be affected by the explosion," Mr Feickert told TVNZ.

"From the samples today [we know] that there was some kind of heating going on, that provides an ignition force."

He said given the lack of ventilation, methane gas would have built up and the combination of gas and the smouldering material would have caused the explosion.

5.09pm:

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn says this is the "darkest day" for the West Coast.

"This has got to be the darkest day for me. For Greymouth, for everywhere. This is the darkest day.

"Things are never going to be the same."

4.44pm:

There has been a second explosion in the Pike River mine.

It occurred at 2.37pm, Operation Pike commander Gary Knowles said.

Family members and Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn were seen leaving this afternoon's briefing in tears.

Knowles told families no-one could have survived a blast of that magnitude.

He said it was his most tragic moment as a police officer.

4.27pm:

A third robot from Australia is being prepped to enter the Pike River coal mine, police say.

The robot has a range of 6km and is owned by the Perth base of state-owned company Water Corporation.

Its public relations chief Phil Kneebone told

The West Australian

the decision to send the 1.3 tonne device followed a spur of the moment email to his brother, a senior New Zealand police officer, suggesting it might be useful in the rescue operation.

The Tunnel Inspection Vehicle is about the size of a bobcat.

The robot is believed to be better suited to the task than the two defence force robots already deployed in the mine, as it has a longer range and is larger.

Police did not have any information on the whereabouts of two robots that had already entered the mine.

3.57pm:

The Pakuranga St Peter's Anglican Chapel on Udys Rd is open for prayer from 5pm-6:30pm in particular for the Pike River disaster.

St Patrick's Cathedral on Wyndham Street in Auckland is open from 6.30am to 8pm daily for people to stop in and say a prayer or light a candle for the miners and their families.

Holy Trinity Church in Devonport is open daily for prayers from 9-5, while morning prayers (8.45-9.15am Tuesdays-Fridays) are being devoted to the coal miners and their families.

3.27pm:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall has had the support of the Greymouth community since Friday's coal mine blast.

Revingtons Hotel owner Therese Gibbens told NZPA that Mr Whittall is "a genuine good person who has done a marvellous job."

"Everyone here is really impressed with how he has handled this," she said.

"It must be incredibly hard on him and his family."

3.24pm:

You can now track the significant events that have happened in relation to the Pike River mine blast with this

interactive timeline

.

3.21pm:

The Department of Labour has confirmed it will carry out an investigation into the Pike River crisis under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

It will co-operate with a parallel police investigation so both will be completed quickly with minimal "disruption" for witnesses, a spokeswoman says.

2.26pm:

Rescue personnel remain on standby at the Pike River coal mine, where 29 men have remained trapped since Friday afternoon.

Operation Pike commander Gary Knowles has continued to warn that gas levels at the mine remain unstable.

Newstalk ZB reported that Superintendent Knowles said a rescue could be possible even if gas levels did not fall to zero.

2.20pm:

The Anglican Church of St John in Chandler Ave, Royal Oak in Auckland will be open tomorrow and Friday from 9am to 1pm for people to pray for the Pike River miners, their families and their communities.

1.17pm:

The Harvest Christian Fellowship at 5 Tuhoro St in Otorohanga will open at 1pm on Thursday and provide a room for anyone who would like to come in and spend "as long as they want" in quiet prayer.

St Andrew's Anglican Church in Pukekohe is also open daily for prayers.

1.03pm:

The use of multiple robots in the Pike River rescue operation is unprecedented, an American robotics expert said.

Arizona University Department of Mining and Geological Engineering Associate Professor Sean Dessureault, told the Science Media Centre that the Western Australian robot would be suited to enter the mine.

"It is likely that the machine has sensors and shielding on the electronics to contend with the environment and other dangers specific to coal mines. Such environments are much more challenging than the bomb disposal that the other machine must contend with," Dr Dessureault said.

1.00pm:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall has acknowledged there are tensions between the trapped miners' families over the lengthy wait for a rescue operation to get underway.

Mr Whittall

has continued to stress

that no such operation can take place until conditions in the mine allow it.

"It's a matter of the mine exploding while they're in there," he told reporters during this morning's press conference.

"That's the issue."

12.49pm:

Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn said he had been offered another "state of the art" robot by search and rescue workers in Sydney.

He has passed the information on to police and is asking them to seriously consider shipping the robot in.

"This one is a fantastic hope," he said.

"I've been with these families for almost a week now. They've been through hell and back. We can't keep putting them through this. We need some system in there where we can actually see the miners."

12.33pm:

Herald

columnist Fran O'Sullivan today called for Pike River bosses to

show support

to their CEO, Peter Whittall:

The pressure on Whittall will be immense. Not just the psychological pressure of hoping beyond belief he can get his hand-picked men out of that hell hole.

Think back just 12 years to the Auckland power crisis when much of our CBD was without electricity for six weeks. Back then Mercury Energy chief executive Wayne Gilbert was the public face of a company which was repeatedly blamed for the cable crisis.

Gilbert died of a sudden heart attack during the crisis. The Mercury board, which clearly had some role in the company's strategic decisions, then took a greater presence.

Frankly, it is time we saw a few more of Pike River's top brass.

12.08pm:

St Michael's Anglican Church in Great North Rd, Henderson in Auckland is open from 8am-8pm tomorrow for anyone wanting a quiet place to pray for the miners, their families and the rescue operation.

All churches are invited to

contact nzherald.co.nz

to inform their communities of special services they are holding in support of the 29 miners and their families.

12.04pm:

Australian mine safety expert David Cliff said blast from the Pike River mine explosion would have "reflected like a billiard ball off the walls" and passed multiple times in differing directions throughout the mine.

Mr Cliff told the Science Media Centre that the pressure wave would have lost intensity as it moved through the mine, suggesting the 52-second blast seen in CCTV footage would have been an indicator of the camera's location from the source of the explosion.

11.37am:

Australian mining expert John Brady had told the

Herald

there is a small window of opportunity after any mining explosion where methane levels have not yet built up, however Pike River CEO Peter Whittall said it would always have been dangerous to enter the mine.

"It would have been just as hazardous straight away as it is now."

10.52am:

Operation Pike commander Gary Knowles dismissed a suggestion that "country cops" were running the rescue exercise.

Superintendent Knowles said that he was responsible for three quarters of the South Island's police force.

10.46am:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall reiterated previous warnings given to media that the safety issue at the mine is not about whether it is safe to breathe, but that there could be an explosion in the mine.

Mr Whittall said that if a robot happened to be in the mine during an explosion then "we've lost a piece of equipment - not a person."

CCTV shows footage of "two guys walking past the camera" after Friday's explosion,. but the company would discuss with the miners' families before deciding whether to release that footage to the media.

Mr Whittall said there were six drilling rigs in the area, but it was a matter of where they could be employed and if they would be of use.

10.45am:

Operation Pike commander Gary Knowles warned that the situation continued to develop.

He said Air New Zealand would be transporting a robot from the United States at 7.45am tomorrow morning.

10.44am:

Operation Pike commander Gary Knowles said he could understand frustration being directed at him personally.

He said family members had asked him if he made the final decisions.

"No. This is is a team approach."

Mr Knowles said he relied on the knowledge of the various experts involved in the operation.

10.40am:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall said the first tests from a borehole into the Pike River coal mine have revealed an atmosphere high in carbon monoxide and methane and low in oxygen.

Gas samples from the borehole will be used to inform rescuers hoping to enter the mine, he said.

"They've got that data so they can start making more accurate decisions on whether they can enter the mine or not."

Mr Whittall said a second borehole is being dug in a position closer to where the trapped miners are expected to be.

It will be 117 metres deep. The first tunnel was 162 metres deep.

10.38am:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall said he thought everyone involved in the operation understood that not all 29 miners might have survived Friday's blast.

He restated his hope that all of the miners would still be alive.

We're going to get as many guys out as we can. If it's 29, great. If it's not, then we'll deal with that."

10.35am:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall said thermal imaging equipment would give an indication of heat conditions in the mine.

Mr Whittall said it was "inappropriate" for journalists to ask him about why the rescue effort couldn't be done in the same way as a fire service rescue.

Operation Pike commander Gary Knowles said that comparing this rescue operation to the rescue efforts in New York on September 11, 2001, was not appropriate and that NZ Mines Rescue had already told media that there was little relation between a mine rescue and a fire service rescue.

He repeated again that they were prepared for all outcomes, including the "unpleasant situation of recovery."

"We don't know where the miners are," he said.

"A lot of the comments from you people are not helpful," Mr Knowles said to assembled media.

He said they caused distress to the Pike River miners' families.

10.22am:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall said the miner's cap lamp found by an NZ Defence Force robot belonged to Russell Smith, one of two men known to have survived Friday's blast.

Mr Whittall said the lamp, which was still working, meant good news for the miners still trapped because if they were using their lights sparingly, they may still be able to see.

The second robot has progressed about 100 metres into the mine and is yet to reach Russell Smith's damaged loader which is thought to be about 1400 metres into the mine tunnel.

Mr Whittall said he has not seen the "poor quality" footage taken from a camera inserted into a fresh air refuge base but has been advised on what it showed.

"It doesn't show you that anyone's there. It doesn't show you that anyone was there."

Mr Whittall said that there was a "large understanding" that because of the rush of gases that came out of the bore hole and the length of time since the blast, that the outlook was not good for the 29 men underground.

"I certainly hope the guys are waiting down there. I certainly hope to see them again."

Mr Whittall said his daughter asked him to wear a Victim Support badge and that many people were wearing them around Greymouth.

"It's a wonderful tribute," he said.

"I've been overwhelmed by support from all around the country."

10.20am:

Pike River CEO Peter Whittall praised the "absolutely fantastic" effort of the drillers who opened the bore hole at the mine.

Mr Whittall said news of the rush of carbon monoxide and methane from the hole was probably not what the miners' families wanted to hear.

10.17am:

Operation Pike commander Gary Knowles said the NZ Defence Force's first robot discovered a miner's helmet in the tunnel with the light still working.

Mr Knowles said that was amazing.

A second robot is in the tunnel and has about 30 minutes of "functionality" left.

"A very large beast" has arrived from Australia and will be assessed before it can be deployed into the mine. Mr Knowles said he would go to the mine to take part in the assessment.

He stressed that the mine environment was still unstable and unsafe.

"At the end of the day, Mines Rescue are ready to activate whenever the opportunity" arises, but Mr Knowles could understand families' frustrations.

Mr Knowles said rescuers planned to "effect a recovery... effect a rescue."

Some footage from the robot's camera will be released after family members have seen it later this afternoon.

10.13am:

Labour leader Phil Goff was at the briefing with the Pike River miners' families this morning.

He said the expert advice given since the borehole was broken through is that "it is a highly dangerous environment."

"There are hundreds of people in that meeting who would dearly love to volunteer to walk into that mine but you have to go with the expert advice," he said.

"I accept that the authorities are doing everything they can."

Mr Goff said he saw enormous stress.

"People have been living with that awful uncertainty of what has happened to their loved ones."

10.11am:

Birchfield Ross Mining founder Evan Birchfield operates several mines on the West Coast, including an open cut coal mine 15kms from the Pike River mine.

This morning he rejected what he said were calls from some media to regulate or ban coal mining on the West Coast in the wake of the crisis.

"It's a big industry on the West Coast. It keeps a lot of people employed. It keeps a lot of towns alive," he said.

"Because of coal mining, we haven't seen the recession. I don't think this will turn people against us."

10.01am:

Pike River chairman John Dow told National Radio the hot air and gas that has been reported to have come up through the bore hole when the drill broke through was expected.

Mr Dow said the gas had been anaylsed but he did not yet know the results. The findings from those samples would be critical in what action is taken next, he said.

The hole was completed about half an hour ago.

9.40am:

A spokesman for Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee confirmed to the

Herald

that the bore hole was completed this morning, but could not immediately provide any details.

9.34am:

The bore hole being drilled at Pike River has broken through into the mine.

In its report, Newstalk ZB said a rush of hot gas came through when the final layer of rock was broken.

9.26am:

Daniel Rockhouse, one of two miners known to have survived Friday's Pike River blast, told the

Herald

that families were feeling "pretty distraught, just like me."

"I've got all the hope in the world and that's what I'm holding onto. Everyone needs to pray for them as well," Mr Rockhouse said.

"This gives Pike River staff and Mines Rescue all the support they need. Hang in there. I guess it's a waiting game."

"I think they're doing everything that they can and I don't expect other guys to risk their lives when it's just pointless to go in," he said.

"If they go in there, they're going to get killed."

9.01am:

Lawrie Drew, father of trapped Pike River miner Zen Drew, has emerged from this morning's family briefing and remains angry at the situation.

Mr Drew dismissed the update as "PR bullshit."

8.57am:

The Commission of Inquiry that could follow the Pike River mine blast could examine the safety of miners underground in general and not just the cause of Friday's incident, according to the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing union's national secretary.

Andrew Little told NZPA the inquiry could look at how Pike River's operations measured up to current industry standards, and whether those standards were adequate.

Mr Little is expected in Greymouth today.

8.35am:

Pike River Coal chairman John Down said the trapped miners' families erupted into spontaneous applause yesterday when they were told the company board are "100 percent behind" chief executive Peter Whittall.

He told Radio New Zealand the support of West Coasters for both the families and the company had been "outstanding."

8.30am:

The heavy-duty robot sent from Australia to assist at the Pike River coal mine arrived at Hokitika shortly ago and is on its way to the site.

8.09am:

Geoff Valli, whose brother Keith is in the Pike River coal mine mine, has expressed frustration with the rescue operation.

The former All Black

told Radio New Zealand he was tired of hearing about the delays in the rescue.

"They need to go in and have a look," he said.

"We ain't got the time. It's time for men to do what men have got to do."

Tasman police district commander Gary Knowles, who is leading the operation, told Radio New Zealand he would remain positive and would not "put a timeline on people's lives."

8.01am:

Pike River family members arriving for this morning's briefing are looking miserable.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn told Newstalk ZB that he was rapt with news of robotic activity at the coal mine, but stressed that more information had to be delivered.

"The families now want finality, one way or another."

7.53am:

Robotics expert William "Red" Whittaker told Newstalk ZB "there hasn't yet been a robot that has pulled a miner out from a mine."

"These are not machines that are certified to go into mines. Mining equipment has to be explosion proof," said Professor Whittaker of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute.

"It could be already that New Zealand is courageous in allowing the utilisation of robots in this circumstance in order to get a good assessment."

"Normally robots are used as the last option, not as the first tool of choice," Professor Whittaker said.

7.45am:

The Hercules aircraft carrying the Australian robot was expected to arrive at Hokitika Airport at this moment, police said.

7.30am:

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn saw an NZ Defence Force robot's kilometre-long movement into the Pike River coal mine as a positive step.

He told Newstalk ZB it was vital that families get some news of their loved ones today.

7.24am:

Police Minister Judith Collins thought there could be a chance that some Pike River miners might still be alive if they were in the right place at the right time.

However she conceded to Newstalk ZB that the situation was one of "fainter and fainter hope."

It was a mammoth blast and we should be realistic."

7.18am:

Police Minister Judith Collins told Newstalk ZB she and Police Commissioner Howard Broad were on the West Coast to support Operation Pike commander Gary Knowles and his team.

7.12am:

A second Army robot has moved into the Pike River mine tunnel, Radio New Zealand reported.

Don't forget that if you're on Twitter, you can read tweets related to the Pike River story in the

#PikeRiver

hashtag stream.

You can follow nzherald.co.nz on

Twitter

and "like" us on

Facebook

, and debate the news as it happens.

To read messages of support to the Pike River mining community from New Zealand and around the world,

click here.

7.02am:

Police have confirmed the first NZ Defence Force robot, which was sent into the mine yesterday but suffered mechanical issues, has restarted.

A spokesperson said the robot was started remotely, and has now travelled a total 1000m down the mine.

The robot, the Remote Positioning Device Wheelbarrow Revolution, stalled about 500m down the roadway after sustaining water damage.

A second defence force robot is also now in the tunnel and a robot from Western Australia has arrived.

6.55am:

Hard rock is hampering the progress of the drilling of a bore hole, which has continued through the night.

A police spokesperson in Greymouth did not know how much further was to go, but said the hole was "nearing completion".

The 160m deep hole will give authorities access to another part of the mine where they can take air samples. Camera and video imaging equipment will also be lowered to give rescuers an idea of the conditions.

Another hole closer to where many of the missing men are believed to have been working is also planned.

6.51am:

St Andrews Anglican Church, Cambridge has the church open from 9am-3pm daily for people to have a quiet time for prayer, and a service at 10:00am on Wednesday with special focus for all those involved at Pike River Mine and their communities.

All churches are invited to

contact nzherald.co.nz

to inform their communities of special services they are holding in support of the 29 miners and their families.

6.50am:

Police told Newstalk ZB that the bore hole being drilled overnight still hasn't broken through into the mine.

6.47am:

Coal seam fires can continue burning for decades, Queensland University Minerals Industry Safety Centre operations manager David Cliff told Radio New Zealand.

The fire will burn until there is no more oxygen, either through smothering the coal face or blocking up the mine completely, he said.

6.46am:

St Mary by the Sea Anglican Church, on Deep Creek Rd in Torbay on Auckland's North Shore, will be expanding its 10 am holy communion service today to allow people to pray for the lost miners and their families.

6.45am:

Good morning. We are now into the sixth day of the Pike River mine situation. A media conference is expect to be held at 10am.

View Pike River coal mine in a larger map

- NZHERALD STAFF, NZPA AND NEWSTALK ZB