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Aberfan 56th anniversary: The story of the coal-mining tragedy


oday (October 21) marks the 56th anniversary of the Aberfan Disaster of 1966, which killed 116 youngsters and 28 adults in a village in South Wales.

The Aberfan tragedy was one of many UK’s worst coal-mining disasters in historical past and killed virtually a complete technology of the village’s youth.

Every 12 months, the individuals of Wales and the UK pay tribute to the victims and the neighborhood of Aberfan on the anniversary of the disaster.

Learn concerning the story of the Aberfan Disaster and its aftermath under.

What was the Aberfan Disaster?

Aberfan is a village close to Merthyr Tydfil, in South Wales.

Its colliery opened in 1869, however by 1916 it had run out of area to dump waste on the valley ground. The colliery then started tipping its waste on the mountainside above the village.

The Aberfan Disaster occurred on October 21, 1966, when the kids of Pantglas Primary School had been simply settling into their lecture rooms.

Around 9.15 am, 140,000 cubic yards of coal waste got here pouring down the mountainside.

More than 140 individuals had been killed when the coal tip collapsed

/ Keystone/Getty Images

The avalanche smothered the first faculty in addition to close by homes and the close by secondary faculty, killing greater than 140 individuals, most of them youngsters.

Jeff Edwards, a survivor of the disaster who was simply eight years outdated on the time, recalled the traumatic expertise in an interview with the BBC.

He stated: ”I bear in mind waking up with all this materials that had come from the opposite facet of the room on high of me.

“All this material was over me, and all these screams and shouts, but the lasting memory for me was the young girl’s head on my shoulder…

“When I think of the disaster, that [image] was going to cause problems for many years to come.”

The Queen met with Aberfan Disaster survivor Jeff Edwards, who was just eight at the time

/ Arthur Edwards/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Another survivor, Gaynor Madgwick, who lost her brother and sister in the disaster, told the BBC: “I never remember the slurry hitting me.

“When I woke up, I’d been catapulted to the back of the classroom. I just remember looking around; desks, chairs, mud, slurry.

“I just lay there, I wasn’t screaming, I was in shock.”

The avalanche is thought to have happened due to a build-up of water at the colliery’s spoil tips.

Despite Aberfan’s town council expressing their concerns about the spoil tips years before, following a non-lethal accident, the National Coal Board failed to take action, and a national inquiry found them guilty of extreme negligence.

The aftermath of the Aberfan Disaster

The disaster garnered widespread attention across the UK. Prince Philip, Lord Snowdon, and the then-prime minister Harold Wilson were among those who visited the village the following day.

The Queen visited Aberfan eight days later, shortly after the village had held a mass funeral for the victims, which attracted some criticism.

However, many Aberfan community members were glad the Queen waited, as visiting any sooner might have added to the confusion.

The Queen, who had two young children at the time, was said to have been deeply moved by the tragedy. She visited the village a number of times over the years, throughout her reign.

The Aberfan Disaster and the Queen’s go to had been depicted in an episode of The Crown.

In response to the disaster, The Mines and Quarries (Tips) Act 1969 was handed, offering steerage on making certain the protection of spoil tips. It has since been changed by the Mines Regulations Act 2014.

Tributes for the neighborhood of Aberfan

BBC presenter Huw Edwards stated: “116 children. 28 adults. Remember, Aberfan 21-10-1966. Remember the criminal negligence that caused it. Remember the shameful response of the Government and coal board.”

First Minister Mark Drakeford stated: “Today, we mark 56 years since one of the bleakest days in our history. We will always remember those who lost their lives – most of them children.

“The resilience and strength shown by the community who faced the unimaginable is a shining example to us all.”

Welsh commentator Owen Williams stated: “56 years ago, a generation of little children was wiped from the face of the earth in a wholly avoidable tragedy.

“Aberfan was real. It happened. And those responsible have dodged accountability for far too long. Wales can’t, and won’t, forget.”

Plaid Cymru chief Adam Price stated: “56 years ago this morning, 116 children and 28 adults were killed in the horrific Aberfan disaster. Today, we remember them.”

Merthyr Town FC stated: “56 years on, we remember those who we tragically lost on 21st October 1966 in the Aberfan disaster.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with those families who lost their loved ones on that awful day.”

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