Devon

Minister recalls Aberfan 'devastation'

Rescue workers at the scene of the Aberfan disaster the following day Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rescue workers at the scene of the Aberfan disaster the following day

A Methodist minister has spoken about the "total devastation" caused when a coal waste tip collapsed in the Welsh village of Aberfan.

A total of 144 people, including 116 children, died in the disaster in 1966.

Rev Irving Penberthy, from Cornwall, ran the Sunday school in the village's Methodist chapel. He said: "Men were digging furiously at this muck."

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the disaster, which sent shockwaves of grief around the world.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the disaster, Mr Penberthy, who now lives in Okehampton, Devon, said the loss of lives "plays havoc with your emotions".

Image caption The Reverend Irving Penberthy on the day of the disaster: "I was father in God to more than 50 children and I loved them all and my grief was intense."

Many of his Sunday School children died in the disaster, he said.

He said: "We had a large Sunday school. I always loved working with children and I play piano and accordion.

"We gathered on Monday evenings to sing songs and play games.

"Someone asked me if I felt glad that none of my children were in there.

"I said I was father in God to more than 50 children and I loved them all and my grief was intense."

He will be attending a memorial event to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy this Friday.

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