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New Zealand Disasters: Pike River Mine Explosion (19 November 2010)

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  • Benjamin David (Ben) Rockhouse (1989 - 2010)
    Ben Rockhouse was a New Zealander who was killed in the Pike River mine explosion in 2010.
  • Malcolm Campbell (1985 - 2010)
    Malcolm Campbell was a Scottish-born miner who was one of the 29 fatalities in the Pike River Mine disaster of 2010.
  • Peter James (Pete) Rodger (1970 - 2010)
    Peter Rodger is a British-born miner who was one of the 29 victims of the Pike River Mine explosion.
  • Francis Skiddy Marden (1969 - 2010)
    Francis Skiddy Marden, a building contractor, was one of the 29 victims of the Pike River Mine collapse. A native Concord Mass. Francis Skiddy Marden was a soft-spoken outdoorsman who loved spelunkin...
  • Christopher Peter (Chris) Duggan (1979 - 2010)
    Chris Duggan was a New Zealander who was one of the victims of the Pike River Mine explosion.

On the afternoon of 19 November 2010, an explosion ripped through the remote Pike River mine on the West Coast of the South Island, killing 29 men. Their bodies have not been recovered, and remain in the mine.

That afternoon, men employed by the Pike River mine were underground alongside employees of five different contracting companies. As on any workday, men entered and left the mine at different times. Chance played a big part in deciding the 31 men who were underground at 3.44 p.m. when an explosion disabled power and communication into the mine.

Daniel Rockhouse was refilling his loader in the tunnel when he was blown off his feet by the explosion. He soon lost consciousness. When he came to in the smoky atmosphere, Rockhouse groped his way down the tunnel in darkness. After about 300 m he found Russell Smith on the ground, and together they struggled to the mine entrance, with Rockhouse holding Smith up and grasping a rail for support with his free hand. Both were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, and they were the only survivors. The other 29 men in the mine were either killed by the force of the explosion or suffocated by noxious gases.

CCTV footage showed a pressure wave and flying debris blasted out of the mine entrance. A subsequent inspection by helicopter found that the back-up fan at the top of the ventilation shaft was badly damaged and the surrounding vegetation charred.

Further explosions on 24, 26 and 28 November made it clear that it would be too dangerous to attempt re-entry, and the mine was subsequently sealed.

A public memorial service for the 29 men killed was held at Omoto racecourse, near Greymouth, on 2 December 2010. A permanent memorial, listing the names of the men killed, has been erected near the junction of Atarau Road and the road up to the mine and a memorial stone was unveiled in Greymouth on 19 November 2011.

Source: 'Pike River mine disaster', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/pike-river-mine-disaster, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 31-May-2019

The 29 people killed:

  1. Conrad John Adams, 43
  2. Malcolm Campbell, 25
  3. Glen Peter Cruse, 35
  4. Allan John Dixon, 59
  5. Zen Wodin Drew, 21
  6. Christopher Peter Duggan, 31
  7. Joseph Ray Dunbar, 17
  8. John Leonard Hale, 45
  9. Daniel Thomas Herk, 36
  10. David Mark Hoggart, 33
  11. Richard Bennett Holling, 41
  12. Andrew David Hurren, 32
  13. Jacobus (Koos) Albertus Jonker, 47
  14. William John Joynson, 49
  15. Riki Steve Keane, 28
  16. Terry David Kitchin, 41
  17. Samuel Peter Mackie, 26
  18. Francis Skiddy Marden, 41
  19. Michael Nolan Hanmer Monk, 23,
  20. Stuart Gilbert Mudge, 31
  21. Kane Barry Nieper, 33
  22. Peter O'Neill, 55
  23. Milton John Osborne, 54
  24. Brendan John Palmer, 27
  25. Benjamin David Rockhouse, 21
  26. Peter James Rodger, 40
  27. Blair David Sims, 28
  28. Joshua Adam Ufer, 25
  29. Keith Thomas Valli, 62