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M'boro widow remembers day of Pike River mine disaster

Benjamin Joynson, 13, with his mother Kim and brother Jonathon, 15, comfort each other as they remember their father and husband Willie who died in the Pike River Mine disaster in 2010.
Benjamin Joynson, 13, with his mother Kim and brother Jonathon, 15, comfort each other as they remember their father and husband Willie who died in the Pike River Mine disaster in 2010. Robyne Cuerel

TWO years on from New Zealand's Pike River Mine disaster, Maryborough's Kim Joynson is still coping with the loss of her husband.

Today will mark the second anniversary of the mining disaster, which claimed the life of Willie Joynson and 28 other men in the mine near Greymouth.

Kim Joynson said she remembered the day of the accident well, and recalled learning of the tragic accident through a phone call from a friend.

Wille Joynson.
Wille Joynson. File

"We had been living in New Zealand for about 16 months when it happened," Mrs Joynson said.

"I just remember my friend calling me up and asking me if Willie was home.

"She told me to turn on the television and that's when I saw it.

"I tried to call the control room at the mine to see if he was all right, but it rang out."

The primary explosion occurred on November 19, 2010, about 3.44pm, and was caused by a build-up of methane gas within the mine.

Three more explosions occurred down the mine in the days after the first one.

Emergency services declaredthat no workers would be found alive within the mine.

The bodies of the 29 men still lie deep inside the mine.

It took the Pike River Mine company several hours to return Mrs Joynson's call and inform her of the accident.

"Pike really wanted him (Willie) to work there and it was a job that would give us more time with him," she said.

"He took the job so that he would be home more often, and could spend more time with the boys.

"We were going to leave in August before the accident … but we decided to stay there for a bit longer."

The findings of a royal commission of inquiry into the disaster released on October 30 placed the blame squarely on a lack of health and safety procedures by the company and a lack of oversight by the New Zealand Department of Labour.

Topics:  maryborough widow


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