Aberfan: The Mistake that Cost a Village its Children


Fifty years ago today, on October 21, 1966, the Welsh village of Aberfan lost 116 children and 28 adults when a slag heap from the nearby coal mines collapsed directly upon the Pantglas Junior School.

Down in Pantglas Junior School the lights began to flicker and sway; an ominous roar like “a jet plane screaming low over the school in the fog”.

The glistening black avalanche consumed rocks, trees, farm cottages then ruptured the Brecon Beacons to Cardiff water main, engorging it further and increasing the velocity of its murderous descent towards Pantglas.

Seconds after it hit, Cyril Vaughan, a teacher at the neighbouring senior school, said “everything was so quiet”.

“As if nature had realised that a tremendous mistake had been made and nature was speechless.”

It was an unbelievable tragedy, but it wasn’t unforeseen. Citizens had complained to the National Coal Board for years about the growing slag heap on the hills above the village, but got no action. Read about the horror of the Aberfan disaster and its aftermath at BBC News. -via Metafilter

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