Rescuers waiting for the all-clear to enter the Pike River mine face a harrowing two-hour walk, carrying up to 24 kilograms of equipment, to search for their trapped "brothers".
One of the missing men is one of their own – a Mines Rescue worker. But the situation is so dangerous that a worker taking samples from the surface of the mine on Saturday had to be evacuated.
As soon as the poisonous gases have reduced to safe levels in the chambers, the rescuers assembled at the mine entrance will make their painstaking descent.
"The logistics of deployment underground are quite vast," said Trevor Watt, general manager of NZ Mine Rescue.
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