The Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip at around 9: 15am on 21 October 1966. 116 children and 28 adults were killed as it engulfed Pantglas Junior School and other buildings. The tip had been created on a mountain slope above the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil. A period of heavy rain led to a build-up of water within the tip which caused it to suddenly slide downhill as a slurry.
About Aberfan disaster in brief
The Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip at around 9: 15am on 21 October 1966. The tip had been created on a mountain slope above the Welsh village of Aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil, and overlaid a natural spring. A period of heavy rain led to a build-up of water within the tip which caused it to suddenly slide downhill as a slurry. 116 children and 28 adults were killed as it engulfed Pantglas Junior School and other buildings. An official inquiry was chaired by Lord Justice Edmund Davies. The report placed the blame squarely on the National Coal Board. Neither the NCB nor any of its employees were prosecuted and the organisation was not fined. The Aberfan Disaster Memorial Fund was set up on the day of the disaster and received nearly 88,000 contributions, totalling £1. 75 million. In 1997 the British government paid back the £150,000 to the ADMF, and in 2007 the Welsh Government donated £1. 5 million to the fund and £500,000 to the Aberfan Education Charity as recompense for the money wrongly taken. Many of the village’s residents suffered medical problems, and half the survivors have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder at some time in their lives. By 1966 there were seven spoil heaps, comprising approximately 2. 6 million cu yd of waste. The main building hit was the local junior school, where lessons had just begun; 5 teachers and 109 children were killed in the school.
The remaining tips were removed only after a lengthy fight by Aberfan residents, against resistance from theNCB and the government on the grounds of cost. The first spoil from the coal mine was deposited on the valley’s lower slopes, east of the canal, but during the 1910s the first tip was started on the western slopes, above the canal line and the village. By 1966 its population had grown to approximately 5,000, most of whom were employed in the coal industry. The NCB’s chairman, Lord Robens, was criticised for making misleading statements and for not providing clarity as to thencB’s knowledge of the presence of water springs on the hillside. At the time, the tip was partly based on ground from which water springs emerged, and they had been marked on Ordnance Survey maps and Geological Society maps. Tip 4 had been started on boggy ground between 1933 and 1945, which was large and was used between the two streams, and had been used between 1874 and 1945. Tip 7 was the only one being used in 1966, it contained 297,000 cubic yards of spoil, which included tailings and ashwaste from the chemical extraction of coal, which took on similar properties to quicksand. It included 111 feet high, and it included 30,000 yards of tailings of coal and ash particles of fine particles of which the fine particles were of similar properties of which it took on.