New Zealand's Pike River miners died within minutes of first blast: Chief Coroner

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Greymouth (New Zealand), Jan 27(ANI): Chief Coroner Neil MacLean has closed the inquest into New Zealand's Pike River Coal mine deaths, saying that he believes the 29 miners died soon after the first blast.

According to Stuff.co.nz, MacLean said evidence showed that the men could not have survived the first blast on November 19.

MacLean said that the deaths occurred either at "the immediate time of the large explosion that occurred in the mine or a very short time thereafter".

"The cause of death, although it may vary in degree between individuals depending on their location, was the result of a substantial explosion and the combination of concussion and thermal injuries due to the explosion pressure wave, together with acute hypoxia through exposure to toxic gases and lack of oxygen," the Chief Coroner said.

He also said that death certificates could now be issued for each man.

An explosion on November 19 had trapped the workers 2,200 metres from the mine's entrance, but rescuers delayed entering the mine, due to the risk of another explosion.

On November 24, a second explosion occurred and it was subsequently presumed that the workers could not have survived.

A third explosion occurred on November 24, which was followed by a fourth on November 28.

As of January 13, no bodies were recovered, and the mine remained unsafe to enter. (ANI)

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