Welsh mine deaths: Church services for Gleision miners

Church services across south Wales have paid tribute to the four miners killed in a Swansea Valley colliery.

Phillip Hill, 45, Garry Jenkins, 39, David Powell, 50, and Charles Breslin, 62, all died in flooded Gleision Colliery near Pontardawe.

Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan said the tragedy had moved an entire nation and the world.

The Prince of Wales has agreed to be royal patron of the Swansea Valley Miners Appeal Fund.

Neath MP Peter Hain said Prince Charles' decision was a boost for the "numb and desolate" families.

"Only a day old, has already raised over £30,000 with hundreds of donations small and large," said Mr Hain, who has been tweeting updates on the amount of money raised.

At Cilybebyll Parish Church, close to the Gleision mine, members of the community took part in prayers in memory of the miners during the Sunday service.

At nearby Resolven, where Mr Hill lived, the service at St David's Church reflected on the tragedy.

Joining the congregation were members of Mr Hill's family, who took away a candle that had been lit in the church.

On Saturday Mr Hill's daughter Kyla had laid a bunch of flowers with a card, which read: "Hi dad, I love and miss you forever. Love you all the money in the world and America. From Kyla x".

Among the congregation at St David's on Sunday was retired oil worker John Brown, 67, who said he had known Mr Hill since he was a boy.

Image caption The message and flowers left by miner Phillip Hill's daughter Kyla near Gleision Colliery

"It is a very sad day. I hope it gives them some strength because it's beyond belief to think of the blackness and the water."

The Reverend Peter Lewis, the area dean for the Vale of Neath parish, said he hoped people in Resolven would draw strength from the service.

"Phillip was part of the community and he was brought up here in a house just down from the church," Mr Lewis said.

Minute's silence

"A lot of people knew him, particularly those villagers who worked in the mines, and so many people have come to leave their condolences."

A miners' remembrance tribute was also held at the church hall in Neath Road, Resolven on Saturday.

A wall of messages reflecting the feeling of the local community has been created inside the hall.

The Catholic community of south Wales also sent condolences to relatives and friends of the miners killed.

Image caption A tribute to the miners in Pontardawe town centre with a helmet balanced on a spade

Organisers of sporting events across the region also paid respects, with a minute's silence at the Glamorgan cricket ground in Cardiff, where England faced India, and at Swansea City's Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion.

The Wales rugby team wore black armbands during Sunday's World Cup match against Samoa as did local rugby sides Ospreys and Llanelli Scarlets in their matches on Saturday.

Specialist inspectors

An inquiry has been launched into the cause of the incident with safety experts promising lessons would be learned from the investigation.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it was too early to know what caused the mine shaft to flood with water on Thursday but mining experts said operating near old workings which contain water was always a hazard.

HSE specialist mine inspectors are on site working closely with the police.

Police have now formally identified the men who died and the order in which their bodies were found.

Mr Jenkins was found first, followed by Mr Powell, Mr Hill and then Mr Breslin. Mr Hill was from Neath and the other three men were from the Swansea Valley.

Three miners escaped as flood water broke through a retaining wall. Two joined the rescue effort, but a third, Malcolm Fyfield, was injured and taken to Morriston Hospital, Swansea.

The incident began at 09:15 BST on Thursday when emergency services were called to the drift mine at Cilybebyll.

Water that was blocking the miners' exit was pumped out of the mine, and oxygen pumped in.

But when divers moved in early on Friday the body of the first miner was discovered at the bottom of the main shaft.

The second man was found at lunchtime, believed to be close to where he was working. Police confirmed during Friday that the remaining two bodies had been discovered.

  • Facebook has taken down what it called an offensive page set up after the tragedy, and has removed the profiles of its creators.

A number of people contacted BBC Wales to say they had complained to Facebook about the page.

A Facebook spokesperson said: "Online and off, a tiny minority of people are intent on causing offence to others.

"At Facebook, we have built rigorous reporting tools that enable people to report content that makes them feel uncomfortable. If content breaches our terms, it will be removed."

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