Image source, ReutersImage caption, The miners who died in 2010. Francis Skiddy Marden and Stuart Gilbert Mudge are not pictured

At least two sets of human remains have been pictured deep inside a New Zealand coal mine, more than a decade after a series of explosions killed 29 men there.

Cameras also picked up what may be a third body in a tunnel, police said.

But they added that the hard-to-reach location meant there was no chance of recovering the remains.

The Pike River mining disaster happened in November 2010 when two blasts ripped through the mine.

Only two of the 31 miners on shift were able to escape.

None of the miners' bodies have ever been recovered.

In 2012, a Royal Commission found that the miners and contractors had been exposed to "unacceptable risk" in the South Island mine. It said "there were numerous warnings of a potential catastrophe at Pike River," but there have been no prosecutions.

  • The 29 coal miners who never came home

By digging a borehole, experts have now been able to gather images from the deepest depths of the mine.

The newly discovered human remains are in the furthest part of the mine from the entrance, police said. They have not been identified.

It is believed that between six and eight men were working in the part of the mine where the photographs were taken.

Image source, Getty Images

"At this point, we have been unable to identify the remains, however we will consult with forensic experts," Detective Superintendent Peter Read said.

Andrew Little, the minister responsible for the recovery operation, said: "I know some families would like to go further, but that won't be possible."

In 2017, the government funded a recovery operation but it was abandoned in March this year. Officials said the operation had gone 2.2km (around 1.5 miles) inside the mine without success and it was too hard and costly to continue.