New Zealand Mine Chief Faces Charges in Deadly Explosions

Posted November 11th, 2011 at 3:00 am (UTC-5)
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New Zealand officials say the head of a mine in which 29 men died in a gas explosion last year has been charged with failing to ensure his workers were safe.

The New Zealand Department of Labor charged Pike River Coal executive Peter Whittall on Thursday with 12 criminal counts, including failing to take all steps to prevent his employees from coming to harm.

Whittall's law firm said he is saddened by the charges and intends to fight them. He is the only individual formally charged in the disaster.

The Pike River mine became a tomb, after explosions ripped through it on November 19 and 24 of last year. The bodies remain underground, because the mine is considered too dangerous to enter.