New Zealand investigators to re-enter coal mine years after disaster

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand said on Tuesday that investigators are preparing to re-enter a coal mine where 29 men were killed more than eight years ago in one of the country’s worst industrial disasters.

A series of explosions ignited by methane ripped through the Pike River mine on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island in November 2010, trapping 31 men. Two managed to escape.

The minister responsible, Andrew Little, said preparations were under way to re-enter the mine on May 3 to try to recover the miners’ remains.

“This is about looking for clues to what caused the explosion that killed 29 men on 19 November 2010,” he said in a statement.

Re-entering the mine had earlier been ruled out due to safety concerns, a stance that had been opposed by many family members of the victims.

Reporting by Praveen Menon; Editing by Nick Macfie