John Key's full speech on the Pike River tragedy, delivered at the Beehive this evening:
"This afternoon New Zealand has been devastated by the news we
have all been dreading.
A second explosion at the Pike River Mine confirms our very worst fears.
The 29 men whose names and faces we have all come to know, will never walk amongst us again.
This is a national tragedy.
A tragedy for the men's families, their workmates and friends, their community and our nation.
New Zealand is a small country. A country where we are our all our brother's keeper.
So to lose this many brothers at once strikes an agonising blow.
Today, all New Zealanders grieve for these men.
We are a nation in mourning.
Where this morning we held on to hope, we must now make way for sorrow.
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of those 29 brave men.
After days of waiting, of both preparing for the worst and hoping for the best, they have been delivered the cruellest of news.
So to all those who have lost a loved one in the Pike River mine let me say: New Zealand stands shoulder to shoulder with you. Though we can not possibly feel this pain as you do, we have you in our hearts and our thoughts.
Like you, we all longed for that miracle to occur, that your men would be returned to you.
Tonight, on behalf of the people of New Zealand, we send our sympathies to the children who have lost their fathers, the parents who have lost sons, the wives who have lost their husbands, the girlfriends who have lost their partners, the siblings who have lost their brothers.
This is a tragedy for the communities of Greymouth and its surrounding area.
This loss will be felt in every home. They leave behind them a hollow space, that will not be readily filled.
We must also acknowledge that Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom have lost men in this tragedy as well.
Tomorrow, I will travel to Greymouth to express my condolences
to the families and to express our thanks to all those who have
worked so hard on the attempted rescue of these men.
From the moment of the first explosion, they have spent every waking hour tirelessly working, searching for a way to bring these men home alive. That was not to be. Their enormous effort can not go unmarked.
In Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English will move a motion in my absence, providing all political parties an opportunity to express their sympathy. Then as a mark of respect to the victims and their families it is the Government's intention to lift the House.
I have also directed that tomorrow all flags on Government
buildings will fly at half-mast.
Questions must now be asked and answered about how such a tragedy was able to occur and how we can prevent another happening in the future.
It is my expectation that Cabinet will confirm the details of a Commission of Inquiry at its next meeting on Monday, along with any other inquiries that may be deemed appropriate.
At this time of national pain, let us not lose sight of what truly makes New Zealand great.
We are a tough and resilient country. We care deeply for our fellow countrymen and women. We are a series of communities knitted together by a set of values and principles that have guided us together through good times and bad.
It is this spirit that will see us through."
Labour leader offers his condolences:
Labour Leader Phil Goff has expressed his heartfelt sympathy for
the families of the miners after news of a second massive explosion
at Pike River Mine.
"This is a devastating shock for the families and the entire community. I want to extend my support and sympathy to those caught up in this terrible tragedy.
"We know that Coasters are brave and resilient and will band together as they work through this terrible time. But the community should know that the entire country will be mourning alongside them."
Goff spoke at a press conference today.
"In terms of an inquiry it's too early for people to be pointing fingers or attributing blame. We want to be there with the families, we want to support them, we want to see them move on from where they are at the moment but sooner rather than later, there are questions that need to be asked and they are the obvious questions.
"What happened? Why did that happen? Could it have been forseen or prevented? and perhaps most importantly at this stage, what is it that we can do to prevent a tragedy of this nature happening again?
"That means an independent inquiry, a high level inquiry. It means all of the questions and the hard questions need to be asked and I believe that inquiry will come soon enough," he said.
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