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May 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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The grieving families of 29 men killed in a New Zealand mine explosion 18 months ago vowed Friday to fight for the bodies to be returned after the new mine owner revealed no recovery was planned.

Solid Energy, which is buying the Pike River Coal mine, said it would not put more lives at risk attempting to bring out the dead men.

"The only safe, feasible and credible option for recovering the men's bodies will be as part of a future commercial mining operation. This will take some years to develop and implement," Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder said.

The families of the miners -- 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and a South African -- were irate after Elder told them there was only a five to 10 percent likelihood of a successful recovery.

Bernie Monk, whose 23-year-old son Michael died in the November 2010 explosions, told the Zealand Herald he was "mad as hell" and the families were pursuing legal options.

"I'm not going to give up. I want my son home for my family. My son deserves a burial," he said.

Anna Osborne, whose husband Milton was among the victims, said it was difficult hearing the reality of the situation facing the families.

"But we are going to get down and get our men out. I'm not giving up."

Monk said the families were also prepared to block Solid Energy's efforts to remove coal from the site if it started mining before recovering the bodies.

Mining stopped at Pike River after the explosion and the Pike River Coal company went into receivership soon after.

An inquiry into the accident is expected to be completed later this year.


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