Friday, 16 September 2011
Trapped Welsh Miners
Some of you may be aware of the four miners trapped underground in a small Welsh mine in the Tawe valley above Swansea. Gleision Colliery, at Cilybebyll near Pontardawe, is a small privately-owned coal mine. Nothing like the scale of the deep shaft mines that used to litter the Welsh valleys further East and where my maternal grandfather was a miner, in a colliery in Aberbargoed, back at the beginning of the 20th C. He left following long-term strike action around 1910 and walked to Newport to sign up with the Army. .
Anyway, this is a small drift mine, but there are extensive workings and some of these are close to long-abandoned and forgotten workings over a century old. When I checked up about this mine on-line, it was mentioned that it always had severe water problems . . . One of these old mine workings may have been breached yesterday morning when, having set off a small detination to bring down more coal, a sudden influx of water flooded the level. Two men managed to escape, and they rescued a third, badly-injured miner, who is now in intensive care in hospital. This left 4 men unaccounted for. Sadly, the falling water levels from constant round-the-clock pumping, revealed the body of one of the 4 trapped miners. Four families wait in fear to discover which of them has lost one of their menfolk. . . . Friday teatime update: another two bodies have been found, but there is still hope that they may find the one remaining miner alive . . . Further update: they have just found his body. R.I.P. four good men: fathers, sons, husbands, brothers or whatever. They will be missed.
It is hoped that the remaining three may have survived in other dead-end tunnels in pockets of air above the flood levels. No contact has been established, however. We must wait and see. Please remember them in your thoughts and prayers.