The Pike River Recovery Agency has reached the furthest point in the mine it plans to go.
The agency reached the roof fall, 2.260km up the drift access tunnel, on Tuesday.
Chief operating officer Dinghy Pattinson said the team finished the last of the forensic work in front of the roof fall near the top of the drift at about 11.30am.
The agency will now turn its attention to the detailed forensic work in the Pit Bottom in Stone area required for the police investigation.
Families of the men who lost their lives gave the agency mementos which were placed into the Rocsil plug facing the roof fall.
“We completed tunneling through the plug late last week, and breaking through to the end of the drift was monumental.
“The boys and I feel pretty good to have now got as far as we can in the drift.That job has been done, and it has been done safely.”
The group left a letter addressed to the men, it said they promised work would continue on finding out what happened. And they said goodbye.
Families of the Pike River victims say reaching the end of the drift is a bittersweet moment that opens the door to criminal investigation of the deaths of their loved ones.
Anna Osborne, who lost her husband Milton, said the end of the drift recovery process has left her with mixed emotions.
“I’m incredibly proud that we have got this far and so thankful that the people of New Zealand have backed us getting this done and gathering the evidence that is crucial to getting justice for our boys.
“But it’s also hard to know that this is as far as we will go and that Milt is still in there. I think every family member will be feeling that same mixture of pride and sadness.”
Sonya Rockhouse lost her son Ben in the explosion. She said the end of the drift is another milestone on the way to justice.
“I’m really pleased that the agency has got to the end of the drift, but this recovery process was never going to be the final chapter.
“The drift recovery was always about retrieving evidence and, if they were there, remains. Now that the mining work is done the in-depth forensics can be completed and the legal work can begin.”
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