The emerging tragedy at the Pike River Mine has stunned us as a nation.
Almost without exception, people I have spoken to in recent days have a connection with the West Coast. This is close to home and explains our strong identification with the families and friends of the victims. We know them. Or at least, we know someone who knows them.
In this vein, I have felt uncomfortable with TV journalists who pushed for the early naming of those trapped in the mine. We can all identify with the need for private grief out of the public eye: the need for families to be families – and not celebrities. Thankfully the local media have sensed the public mood, and have stepped back.
In a very strange way- in the midst of a most awful time – the level of respect we show for each other in times of tragedy makes me feel proud to be a New Zealander . The community spirit, the sense of common purpose and care for each other are something we would do well to emulate in the good times as well.
In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those trapped in the Pike River Mine.
Updates on rescuers progress are available here.
UPDATE: Shortly after I posted the above, news came through of a second blast that could not have been survived. Stuff reported:
“BREAKING NEWS: A second explosion has occurred in the Pike River coal mine where 29 miners were trapped on the West Coast.
Distraught family members left a scheduled briefing a short time ago, only about 10 minutes after it had started and many of them in tears.
Lawrie Drew, the father of trapped miner Zen Drew, said officials had told the families that there had been a second explosion.
The miners had been underground since a first massive gas explosion on Friday.
Investigation head Superintendent Gary Knowles said the large explosion happened about 2.37pm and they were not expecting anyone to get out alive.
There are no words apt for this tragedy. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the miners.
FURTHER UPDATE 25 November:
A relief fund has been established to support the families of those who died in the tragedy.