All 29 miners trapped in the Pike River Coal Mine are dead after a second explosion at 2.
37pm (12.37 AEDT) on Wednesday, police Superintendent Gary Knowles told the miners’ families.
Prime Minister John Key said his country was a nation in mourning, adding that flags would fly at half mast on Thursday, after Police said the explosion was too great for anyone to live through.
“Unfortunately I have to inform the public of New Zealand that at 2.37pm (1237 AEDT) today there was another massive explosion underground and based on that explosion no one survived,” Supt Knowles said.
“We are now going into recovery mode.”
“I was at the mine myself when this actually occurred and the blast was horrific, just as severe as the first blast and we’re currently now moving into recovery phase,” he said.
Supt Knowles added that giving the families the news was the most difficult thing he has had to do in his career as a police officer.
He would not speculate on what caused the blast nor would he say whether anyone else had been injured.
“There was another explosion at the mine. It was extremely severe,” he told reporters.
“Based on expert evidence I have been given … it is our belief that no one has survived and everyone has perished.”
Among the 29 men were two Australians, two Britons, one South African and 24 New Zealanders.
Grieving families left the afternoon briefing at Grey District Council and did not want to talk to the waiting media.
Pike River CEO Peter Whitall was given a round of applause as he left the press conference, with commentators praising his actions throughout the ordeal.
Mr Whitall showed raw emotion when he told reporters that regardless of whether the men were dead or alive, he wanted to retrieve them from the mine.
“We want our boys back, we want to get them out,” he said.
An ambulance arrived to offer assistance to the family members.
The youngest of the miners was just 17, and was on his first job with Pike River.
The disaster was labelled New Zealand’s worst since the 1979 Erebus air disaster, when an Air New Zealand flight crashed killing all 237 passengers aboard.