Sunday, 20 October 2013

At 9.15am on Friday October 21st 1966 - Aberfan - Remembering with Gwyn Thomas

At 9.15am on Friday October 21st 1966, after several days of heavy rain, a huge slag tip above the town of Aberfan in South Wales suddenly liquified and poured down the mountain. The black tidal wave demolished properties in its path and engulfed the Pantglas Junior School in seconds.

Of the 144 people who lost their lives that day, 116 were children. The tragedy was totally preventable.

The National Coal Board had been warned time and time again of the dangers of dumping slag in such a geologically unstable area above towns.

They chose to ignore the warnings claiming it wan't profitable for them to move the slag tips to safer locations.

After the disaster, donations from all over the world poured in for the shattered community. However, most of the money never reached Aberfan. Instead the Government gave it to the National Coal Boad so that they could move other slag tips overlooking other towns in South Wales.

The great Welsh writer and broadcaster Gwyn Thomas delivered his own moving tribute to the victims of the tragedy on the BBC the morning of the mass funeral. This is an excerpt from his eulogy

Yr Aflonyddwch Mawr says  forty five years ago Aberfan impacted the political and social landscape of Wales and reminded many of us who had forgotten we were Welsh - to be reminded of the consequences of British Coalboard Rule in the Mining Valleys, just has Tryweryn some years earlier had shown who ruled Wales and it wasn't the Welsh.

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