Hot air and gas rushed out of the first bore hole this morning as a diamond-tipped drill finally penetrated the Pike River Coal Mine, near Greymouth on the West Coast, where 29 men remain trapped since an explosion last Friday.
Gerry Brownley, New Zealand's Energy and Resources Minister, told radio Newstalkzb this morning that the bore hole, which has pierced mid-way down the tunnel, would provide valuable data on gas and heat levels.
“This will … add very significant information to their risk planning,” he said.
"The mine does remain dangerous,” Police Superintendent Gary Knowles told OneNews, “and as part of our forward planning we are looking at all options on how we can get in there… we're exploring everything."
Many people have put their hands up to go into the mine, he said, despite the risks involved.An army robot that broke down in the Pike River Mine yesterday was restarted, but has since run out of battery power at around the 1000 metre mark.
A second robot is in the tunnel.
A third heavy duty robot has arrived from Western Australia, accompanied by five experts from the West Australian Water Corporation.
The robot is mounted with a camera and gas metres, and powered by a fibre optic cable that reaches up to six kilometres, West Australia's Water Minister Graham Jacobs told Newstalkzb this morning.
There is anger amongst some members of the miners' families, who were only shown a video of the mine explosion yesterday.
Lawrie Drew, father of one of miners, commented that seeing it sooner “would have allowed us to progress things emotionally in our mind", The Press reported.
Drew said family members wanted to stay up at the mine site “regardless of what way things turn out.”
"We know we are losing hope now, Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn told TVOne Breakfast News, “but unless someone shows us otherwise, we are hanging on to all hope."