Monday, October 16, 2006


Today is the anniversary of a disaster which happened in Wales exactly 40 years ago, yet whose name evokes immense sadness even now to almost everyone in Wales.
The small mining community of Aberfan was suddenly engulfed by a collapsing slag heap from the nearby colliery, including the primary school, where 116 children died that morning.

When news broke of the disaster, every available person from all the valleys around went to help. Every mineworker not actually serving a shift underground at the time dropped everything and ran, including my Uncle Nally, who ran from his village, over the mountain-top and down to Aberfan, where he, like so many others, dug, with his shovel and even with bare hands to try to rescue those who were buried under the coal waste.

Every possibly means of transport was commandeered to bring helpers to the village, but for the locals it was almost as quick to run.
My father was actually working his shift underground at the time of the accident, but as soon as he could, he too was racing to try to rescue those children. He had two children of his own; there was no way he was going to stay at home.

I cannot even begin to imagine the grief of the community of Aberfan then, or even the grief they still endure now at the loss of a whole generation of children.

One of my father`s friends lost his twin children that day, and his life was changed irrevocably in an instant.
The heartbreaking thing ? It was completely preventable. It was due to the stupidity and negligence of the National Coal Board that the accident happened. A natural disaster would have been bad enough, but negligence ?

Lord have mercy.
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DebD said...

At that point there were mothers already there and children were being passed out. Mothers were digging at the sludge with their bare hands.

So very sad.

May their memories be eternal.


Mimi said...

Lord have Mercy! May their Memories be Eternal.

Dave Holford said...

When I was taking at friend from the States on a day trip around South Wales a few years ago, I picked stops that were ancient (Caerleon), medieval (Caerphilly Castle and Llanthony Priory), modern (Aberfan).

Memory eternal.

see-through faith said...

wow ! tragic but also heroic.

what I felt when I read is that though the NCB were to blame - we have to let go of the anger and bitterness, to live in forgiveness, people mess up, companies make wrong choices (usually for profit) but holding onto the hurt damages only us, and our relationship with God.

Lord have mercy on us, it is so hard to be honest and yet forgiving. They were to blame. We recognise that. But we forgive those who put profit before people and bless them in Your holy name.

Luz said...

I can't believe that was 40 years ago. I'm not old enough (42) to remember it firsthand but I saw a tv programme about it when I was around 6 and I'll never forget how scared I was - was the first time I had ever thought about the death of other children.