On the 21st of this month it will be 50 years since the Aberfan disaster. For those who don't know please read below.
The Aberfan disaster was a catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, on 21 October 1966, which killed 116 children and 28 adults. It was caused by a build-up of water in the accumulated rock and shale, which suddenly started to slide downhill in the form of slurry.
Over 40,000 cubic metres of debris covered the village in minutes. The classrooms at Pantglas Junior School were immediately inundated; young children and teachers died from impact or suffocation. Many noted the poignancy of the situation: if the disaster had struck a few minutes earlier, the children would not have been in their classrooms, and if it had struck a few hours later, the school would have broken up for half-term.
Great rescue efforts were made, but the large numbers who crowded into the village tended to hamper the work of the trained rescue teams, and delayed the arrival of mine rescue workers from the Merthyr Vale Colliery. Only a few lives could be saved in any case.
The official inquiry blamed the National Coal Board for extreme negligence, and its Chairman, Lord Robens, for making misleading statements. Parliament soon passed new legislation about public safety in relation to mines and quarries.