1966: Just after nine on the morning of Friday, 21 October, one of the colliery waste tips that loomed over the Welsh mining village of Aberfan collapsed. A wave of mining slag and loose rock slipped down the mountainside, burying Pantglas Junior School and 20 houses in the village. Altogether, 144 people died; 116 of them were children.
“I heard a noise, a big rumbling noise. . . . I saw a tree and a telegraph pole coming towards me first, then I saw a big black mass of stuff. . . . A black wave of muck.”
– 13-year-old Gareth Groves
“I was there [trapped in the school] for about an hour and a half until the fire brigade found me. I heard cries and screams, but I couldn’t move. The desk was jammed into my stomach and my leg was under the radiator. The little girl next to me was dead and her head was on my shoulder.”
– Jeff Edwards, an 8-year-old pupil at Pantglas Junior School
“We didn’t go out to play for a long time [after the disaster] because those who’d lost their own children couldn’t bear to see us. We all knew what they were feeling and we felt guilty about being alive.”
– Gaynor Madgwick recalls the aftermath
Source: Iain McLean and Martin Johnes, Aberfan: Government & Disasters (2000), pp. 2, 5, 18