New Zealand Pike River coal mine explosion: Survivor Russel Smith talks about New Zealand mine expirience and rescuers to reach mine wall tonight

By Sam Foster

AP is reporting that rescuers should reach the mine wall tonight. Meanwhile, rescue teams pump fresh air into an open shaft. However, there seems to be much unspoken doubt. Russel Smith who was not deep in the mine during the explosion relays some of his story.

"It wasn't just a bang, finish, it just kept coming, kept coming, kept coming, so I crouched down as low as I could in the seat and tried to get behind this metal door, to stop getting pelted with all this debris," Smith said.

"I remember struggling for breath. I thought at the time it was gas, but ... it was dust, stone dust, I just couldn't breathe. And that's the last I remember," he said.

Rockhouse pulled him to safety, and when he regained consciousness the two took at least an hour to walk out of the dust-choked tunnel.

Both were treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

"I could have easily been blown to bits," Smith said, acknowledging he was lucky to have survived.

He said he couldn't help worrying about his colleagues still underground.

"There's a lot of young guys down there. A lot of people waiting," he said. "Whether they're still alive or dead or ... in an air pocket, you just don't know, because we're not too sure where the explosion was."

See video of earlier coverage below:

Sorry NZ news video has no embed feature.

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