Efforts to recover the bodies of the 29 miners killed when New Zealand’s Pike River mine collapsed have been abandoned.

The miners died during and after a series of explosions in November and Police Commissioner Howard Broad today announced it was too dangerous to attempt to find the bodies after fire and volatile explosive gases had barred entry for nearly two months.

“The likelihood of getting into the mine safely is unrealistic because it is too unsafe,” Broad said.

“In my view, it is time to focus on the living and to respect and memorialise those men who have died.”

New Zealand’s mine sector is generally safe, with 181 people killed in the past 114 years.

The worst disaster was in March 1896 when 65 miners died in a gas explosion. The Pike River blasts happened in the same coal seam.