Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Aberfan - Lest we forget, this gross injustice

49 years ago a on Friday October 21, 1966 , approx 9.16 a.m shortly after school assembly many tons of collier rubbish (slag heaps) swept down the sides of a  Merthyr Mountain  above the town of Aberfan after several days of heavy rain, Liquified and pouring down  this black tidal wave would engulf everything in its path in this catastrophic tragedy.
Following  Monday's post about Tryweryn, another tragic memory from Wales's turbulent living history.
Aberfan was to many a result of a conflict of financial interests, which would see the death of 144 people, including a 115 innocent  children, many of whom were between the age of seven and ten along with, five of their teachers, in what is now known  today as one  of one of Wales worst mining disasters in it's history, not forgetting Senghennydd which I've written about previously when in 1913 over 400 were killed.
By the time the landslide stopped, it had demolished Pantglyn Junior School and 20 houses, severely damaging the Secondary School.

The sores and wounds of this disaster are now forever  stored in the memories  and feelings of the people of Wales because of the whole collective loss of a generation that was wiped out. So today again we  try not to forget  the children and adults who died, this human tragedy, that  many say could easily have been  prevented. The National Coal Board  (NCB) were repeatedly warned to move the slag heaps to a safer location, because they were also  close to natural underwater springs. Did the NCB have the decency to acknowledge their blame, to bow their head in shame, like hell no, but we were to  learn sadly far too late that the NCB was ostensibly a capitalist organisation more concerned with profit than lives.  A report by the government at the time said " Blame  for the disaster rests upon  the National Coal Board. The legal liabilities of the National Coal Board to pay compensation for the  personal injury ( fatal or otherwise) and  damage to property is incontestable and uncontested." The Government of the day was also extremely insensitive to the victims families, and people whould have to wait for years, for compensation.
So today we remember  the people of Aberfan, a community  that still profoundly affected by this disaster, one in three survivors still  suffering  from Post traumatic stress,  nearly 50 years after this tragic event took place.  People felt guilty that they were  left alive, they did not feel like survivors, cases of children not being allowed to play in the street, in case it upset other parents.
Let us  hope that lessons learnt from this incident can be learnt for tomorrow, and  remember that this bitter legacy still continues, what with continuing social and economic problems in the South Wales valleys still  being wrought  because of successive governments who have made lives a  continuing source of discomfort.  Combined with the failure of responsibility by the relevant authorities and the appalling behaviour of  some parties in the aftermath of the disaster.
Today, however there is very  little to remind visitors of  this tragic path, just an abstract memorial garden in the village and the childrens section in the graveyard.

Lest we forget, people before profit.

R.I.P the little angels that were lost forever.


  1. Wrong date. It was Friday 21st Oct not the 24th and approx 0914 hrs - 116 children and 28 adults. Pantglas Junior school. Just saying.

  2. thanks, typo err, most unfortunate, lazy, corrected. thanks.

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