NZ Rescue robot fails, new bot sought

Authorities are seeking a replacement robot to rescue 29 miners trapped in a New Zealand mine after the first machine hit water and short-circuited.

Authorities are seeking a replacement robot to rescue 29 miners trapped in a New Zealand mine after the first machine hit water and short-circuited.

The first military-grade machine is used by New Zealand's defence force to disarm bombs and last year helped end a three-day gun-battle with the country's police forces.

Yet it seems it was not waterproof. Defence personnel have acknowledged that the robot became stuck in the mine while undertaking its mission.

Media reports from the Pike River Mine, where a gas explosion on Friday trapped the miners, say the robot hit a pool of water and short-circuited, some 500 metres into the 2.2 kilometre mine trail.

"It's history," Grey District mayor Tony Kokshoorn said, according to the ABC. He said the failure of the robot was a "kick in the guts".

The robot

Fried: The first robot, pictured, short-circuited after hitting a pool of water (Credit: NZ Defence)

A replacement robot is being sourced from either Western Australia or the United States to be sent into the mine. Defence would not release any details on the machine.

The machines are being deployed to captured details of a trapped underground loader that is blocking an access path.

Engineers have lowered gas sampling tubing from Queensland into the mine to analyse changes in air conditions which may shed light on the condition of the miners who have remained out of contact since the explosion.

Pike River chief executive Peter Whittall said in a statement that a diamond drill bit that will not spark will be used to finish drilling the 162 metre hole for the gas sampling.

Laser imaging equipment may be lowered down the hole if it intersects at an appropriate point in the mine shaft.

Fibre-optic cable is being laid from the mine portal area to the top of the main ventilation shaft to assist with air quality sampling.

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