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Watch: Why the Pike River Mine re-entry was delayed

Above: Pike River Recovery Agency Chief Operating Officer Dinghy Pattinson explains the details behind why re-entry was delayed.

Another frustrating delay for the families of the Pike River Mine victims.

Today was supposed to be the reopening of the Pike River Mine, where 29 men lost their lives in 2010. But plans have been halted, much to the frustration of the families who have been battling for years to recover the bodies of their loved ones.

On Wednesday, Andrew Little, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry, said re-entry was being delayed for safety reasons.

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“Yesterday unexpected and unexplained readings were reported by the atmospheric monitoring systems in the Pike River mine, leading to re-entry operations being suspended.

“Safety has always been our first priority."

Pike River Recovery Agency chief executive Dave Gawn told Radio NZ there were some unexpected readings of oxygen readings which created potential for spontaneous combustion.

In the video above, the agency's Chief Operating Officer Dinghy Pattinson explains in detail what the 3% oxygen found in borehole 51 means.

This week, the agency had been cutting concrete in the mine's drift, in anticipation of today's reopening.

Little supported the agency's decision.

“I back the Pike River Recovery Agency to take the time needed to fully understand the cause and significance of these new readings."

Little said after speaking with Anna Osborne from the Pike River Families Reference, the families will be disappointed at another setback and he and the Prime Minister would be meeting with them this week.

Osborne's husband Milton died in the mine explosion along with 28 other men.

The agency will know more after further testing and investigative work is completed over the next week. A meeting of ventilation experts will then convene later in the month.

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