Coal tip buries chil­dren in Aber­fan

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

were about to em­bark on their first lessons.

Some chil­dren were still in the play­ground, oth­ers were fil­ing in to class­rooms ready for reg­is­ter.

Dilys Pope, aged 10, said: “We heard a noise and we saw stuff fly­ing about. The desks were fall­ing over and the chil­dren were shout­ing and scream­ing.”

In one class­room 14 bod­ies were found and out­side mothers strug­gled deep in mud, clam­our­ing to find their chil­dren. Many were led away weep­ing.

The deputy head teacher, Mr Beynon, was found dead. “He was clutch­ing five chil­dren in his arms as if he had been pro­tect­ing them,” said a res­cuer.

Three peo­ple died in the farm hit by the dis­as­ter and a preg­nant woman whose son was killed in the tragedy went into labour when she heard the tragic news.


As peo­ple ar­rived at the scene, they could hear the cries of those still trapped on the fringe of the coal waste.

One of the big­gest prob­lems fac­ing the res­cue op­er­a­tion was get­ting ve­hi­cles to the site which is lo­cated in a cul-de sac.

Many lo­cal min­ers shov­elled to get the de­bris clear and worked non-stop for 10 hours, in­clud­ing one whose young daugh­ter was thought to be dead.

Ge­orge Thomas, Min­is­ter of State for Wales, said: “A gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren has been wiped out. There is an abun­dance of tips of this sort in Wales, and we shall be look­ing for the pos­si­bil­i­ties that it could hap­pen again.”

In to­tal, 144 peo­ple were killed – 116 of them chil­dren. The last body was re­cov­ered nearly a week after the dis­as­ter hap­pened.

The Na­tional Coal Board said ab­nor­mal rain­fall had caused the coal waste to move.

The In­quiry of Tri­bunal later found that the NCB was wholly to blame and should pay com­pen­sa­tion for loss and per­sonal in­juries.

The NCB and Trea­sury re­fused to ac­cept full fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity for the tragedy so the Aber­fan Dis­as­ter Fund had to con­trib­ute £150,000 to­wards re­mov­ing the re­main­ing tip that over­looked the vil­lage.

This was fi­nally re­paid in 1997 on the in­sti­ga­tion of Ron Davies, the then Sec­re­tary of State for Wales.

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