South West Wales

Gleision deaths: Miner Nigel Evans told to 'run' after flood

Gleision mining victims Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption Garry Jenkins, 39, Philip Hill, 44, David Powell, 50, and Charles Breslin, 62, all died

A miner working in a Swansea Valley mine on the day four men died when it flooded has said he ran for his life to escape.

Nigel Evans felt a gush of wind and heard a voice telling him to "run", Swansea Crown Court heard.

Mr Evans said he saw a light coming towards him "shaking furiously" at the Gleision mine near Pontardawe before fleeing to safety.

Manager Malcolm Fyfield and the mine's owners MNS deny manslaughter charges.

David Powell, 50, Garry Jenkins, 39, Philip Hill, 44, and Charles Breslin, 62, all died in the tragedy on 15 September 2011.

Fled the mine

Mr Evans had been working at the pit for just three days when 650,000 gallons of water rushed into an area where coal was being extracted.

He was at his work station in the drift mine when David "Jake" Wyatt ran towards him and told him to run.

"I remember getting a call from Jake saying they were about to fire," he said.

"It all went quiet for a minute and I started to load supplies on the belt to send up to them. I heard a gushing wind....that was a bit unusual.

"Then I saw Jake and his light was shaking furiously. I knew something was wrong straight away.

"He (Jake) was visibly panicking and running.

"He was shouting run. So I just ran out of the main drift.

"I didn't look back. I was going as fast as I could go."

The court was told after the pair fled the mine, they went back in to find their colleagues.

When Mr Evans was asked if he had been able to see or hear anything, he replied "nothing".

'They're gone'

He started working at Gleision on the Monday before the incident and told the court he saw manager Malcolm Fyfield's light and realised the mine manager was walking out of the mine.

Mr Evans said his boss was "pretty rough, soaking wet, cold and looked like he was in shock". He was also bleeding from his head.

"I asked him where the others were. He said, they're gone," Mr Evans told the court.

Under cross examination Mr Evans said he told the police Mr Fyfield was a "concerned" and "hard-working man".

Earlier in the day, the jury was told by another collier, Nigel Davies, the conditions in the mine "weren't too bad" but it was "a wet mine". He said, at times, it was "like working in the rain".

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Malcolm Fyfield was one of seven men working in the mine near Pontardawe

Previously, the court was told by surface worker Andrew Giles, the son of David Powell, he "knew straight away there was no chance for them boys".

Mr Giles said he heard Mr Evans, running out of the pit shouting.

"We stopped everything we were doing and ran around to Nigel and he said straight away to phone the police and mine rescue," he told the court.

"I couldn't speak for long because I knew my father was down there... I was in shock."

The court has previously heard that Mr Fyfield was one of seven men working in the mine at the time of a controlled explosion and survived after he crawled out through sludge and dirt.

The explosion had been carried out on as part of the mining process and the water swept through a closed-off section of the mine, the court has previously been told.

The case continues.

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