The Aberfan disaster of 1966.
Aberfan is a small mining village in Wales. On the misty morning of October 21st, 1966, the village’s children had just entered the classrooms of the small local school. It was just after nine o’clock.
Suddenly, a loud roaring noise was heard. One teacher was sure that it was an aeroplane that was about to crash and she ordered the children to get under their desks.
It was in fact, tens of thousands of cubic metres of waste from the local mines that had started to slide in an avalanche down the mountain adjacent to the village. The school was engulfed.
Villagers ran to the school in horror and tried to reach the children trapped inside – many simply digging with their bare hands. Most were searching for their own children or grandchildren.
As word spread about the disaster, men from neighbouring villages – mostly miners – arrived in trucks bearing their shovels. Emergency services were dispatched.
Some of the children were rescued but the loss of life was enormous – 144 people died in the Aberfan disaster and 116 of them were children.
Queen Elizabeth, along with the Duke of Edinburgh visited the scene of the disaster and a three year old girl presented Her Majesty with a small bunch of flowers with a label that read ‘from the remaining children of Aberfan’.
Her Majesty is well known for managing to keep her emotions in check – just as she was trained – but those who saw her visit Aberfan that day said that her eyes were welling with tears.* WE have to remember that, at that time, the queen’s youngest child was two years old and many who died in the tragedy were the same age as her second-youngest son Andrew who was six years old at the time.
These original photographs from 1966 go some way towards showing this terrible event.
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