South West Wales

Gleision deaths: Flood water was 'way out of control'

Water which flooded a mine killing four workers was "way out of control" and engulfed everyone in its path, Swansea Crown Court has been told.

Malcolm Fyfield told police he jumped away to avoid it but was dragged in and swept through Gleision drift mine.

He told officers the men had done a test drill to check for water before starting work, but the amount that came through was "absolutely minimal".

Mr Fyfield and owners MNS Mining Ltd deny manslaughter charges.

David Powell, 50, Charles Breslin, 62, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, all died in the mine when 650,000 gallons of water gushed into the area they were working in September 2011.

In police interviews shown to the jury, Mr Fyfield said the men could hear water flooding into the mine 15 seconds after they set off explosives to expose coal.

"None of us expected the amount of water that came through that hole because I had previously inspected the other side," Mr Fyfield told the police.

"We had predrilled it to see if there's water there and the amount of water that came through was absolutely minimal."

'Distressed and distraught'

The rushing water knocked his colleagues to the floor and pushed them past him.

Mr Fyfield said he pictured the faces of his family as he was dragged into the heavy flow and began breathing in water, the court heard.

Det Sgt Huw Griffiths told the court Mr Fyfield phoned him on 8 October 2011 saying he was anxious to talk about what had happened and would not be able to "move on" until he had been interviewed.

Mr Fyfield told him he had suffered a small break to his left hand and was bruised and swollen as a result of a "near-drowning experience".

He explained how he had found Mr Powell and Mr Hill's bodies underground and tried to resuscitate them but there were no signs of life.

Det Sgt Griffiths said Mr Fyfield went on to talk about the mine and told him there were doubts about the validity of the underground plans of the pit.

When officers arrested Mr Fyfield on 18 October 2011 he was "extremely distressed and distraught" and "physically shaking and sobbing", the jury was told.

But Det Sgt Griffiths agreed with Mr Fyfield's defence barrister, Elwen Evans QC, that he wanted to help police the best he could.

The trial continues.

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