A second explosion in the Pike River coal mine has destroyed hopes of finding any survivors.

Families have been told there is no hope any survivors will emerge from the mine after the explosion at 2.37pm this afternoon.

Police chief Gary Knowles spoke to the miner's families late this afternoon and confirmed afterward that nobody in the mine could have survived the second explosion.

Knowles broke down as he addressed the media and the toll of the past four days showed.

The family were "extremely distraught" after the news was broken to them, according to Knowles.

Knowles said this was the hardest thing he has had to do. The superintendent was at the mine when the second explosion occurred and said the blast was "prolific".

He said emergency services were now dealing with a recovery operation.

There has been no contact with the 29 miners since the first explosion in the mine of Friday.

Fears of a second blast have led to a cautious recovery experts, with rescuers unwilling to risk any further lives in the volatile environment.

The cause of the second blast is not known at this stage.

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