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Trapped Welsh miners rescue operation – live coverage

• One miner reported dead
• Divers forced to turn back from mine because of debris
• Local MP Peter Hain says situation is “grim”

11.45am: Facebook pages are appearing on-line. One, entitled Pray for the Trapped Swansea Valley Miners at Gleision already has over 6,000 supporters.

There is a second here called the Hope Page for Gleision Colliers which says that the page is for “anyone wishing to leave well being messages for the families and friends of the Gleision coal mine”.

11.44am: South Wales police have a dedicated phone line for those who are concerned relatives have been involved. The number is 01792 555565

11.39am: WE also have a video here of the events from last night’s rescue mission.


11.31am: Steve Morris has an update to clarify why police are as yet unable to identify the dead miner. This is because rescue divers haven’t been able to recover the body yet so can’t know who it is.

(Note: Steve is the gentleman in the green jumper standing behind Supt Phil Davies in the video of the press conference below )

11.25am: My colleague Paddy Allen has created a very informative interactive of events including an internal graphic of the mine here.

11.13am: Here is the video of the press conference from 8:30 this morning in which supt Phil Davies from South Wales police said that tragically, one miner had been found dead.


10.54am: Elfed Godding, national director Evangelical Alliance Wales which represents 20 denominations has urged the country into prayer:

This is a shocking event and our thoughts and prayers are with the miners and their families. Wales has a long tradition of mining and coal miners have always occupied a special place in the hearts of the nation. My own father and both my grandfathers were miners, and I’m sure virtually every Welsh family has some association with this industry.

I would urge everyone in Wales today to spend a few moments praying for these men and their families, asking that they might know hope and peace in their terrible ordeal.

10.48am: PA is reporting that one of the four men who failed to get out of the mine yesterday before it completely flooded is the father of one of those who managed escaped.

10.26am: This just in from our on the ground reporter Steve Morris who has some details on how the miners’ families are coping. He also says there is some better news from rescuers concerning the three miners still trapped behind flood waters and debris.


The miners’ families were told the terrible news at the community centre in Rhos, two miles from the mine. Most close relatives had stayed together at the hall. Blankets had been brought in for them and meals on wheels had delivered hot dinners to them.

The families were told individually that one body had been killed but not yet identified. Witnesses in the hall said there were tears and hugs.

Peter Hain, the Neath MP, said one mother had told him it would have been better to hear “whatever the news was straight up”. Being half-told made it all the harder to bear.

The positive news is that the rescue workers are confident they are getting closer to where they need to be.

They have reached the area where blasting caused the water to pour into the shaft. The challenge they have now is getting past a ”blockage” debris caused by that blasting.

Huge numbers of workers and equipment continue to be brought up to the mine – a lorry loaded with scaffolding planks just went by.

Rescue workers continue to be positive, hoping the three men still lost have managed to find an air pocket in the myriad of tunnels cut into the mountainside.

10.14am: The Gleision colliery is a very old mine which has had disaster strike it before. In 1909 there was a very similar incident to Thursday’s when water from the abandoned Ynysgeinon pit rushed in killing five miners. Then, the age of the two youngest deaths was just 14 years old according to the historical website

10.05am: The news wire service PA has put out a timeline of events:


• 0920 South Wales Police officers, along with fire and ambulance crews, are called to the colliery after four people were trapped. Seven people were initially in the mine at the time, three of them got out – with one taken to hospital. The families gather at Rhos Community Centre where they are kept informed.

• 1300 As the news breaks, a police spokesman describes the rescue operation as “a dynamic situation”.

• 1500 Superintendent Phil Davies says emergency services are conducting a “difficult rescue operation”.

• 1700 It emerges that the miner who was taken to hospital is in a “critical condition”. Mr Davies also says water is ingressing into the mine.

• 1800 Shadow Welsh secretary Peter Hain Hain says the situation is “desperately serious” after talking to the families of the trapped men who are his constituents.

• 1820 Chris Margetts of South Wales Fire Service says he is “very hopeful and optimistic” that the four miners can be rescued. He says the miners have been located approximated 90 metres underground down a 250 metre (820ft) main route into the mine. Rescuers cannot communicate with the trapped men.

• 1945 David Cameron says “every support” would be given to emergency services adding that his “thoughts are with those missing and their family and friends”.

• 2130 Missing miners are named by South Wales Police as Phillip Hill, 45, Charles Bresnan, 62, David Powell, 50, and Garry Jenkins, 39.

• 2230 Labour leader Ed Miliband says: “All of us will be watching, waiting and hoping for a successful rescue.”


• 0400 – Rescuers say divers have been forced to return above ground and abandon their efforts after about 30 metres.

• 0420 - It emerges that a team from Sure Wave Technology, based in Cheshire, is brought in to detect movement deep underground. Fresh rescue teams are also brought in to relieve colleagues who have worked for at least 12 hours non-stop.

• 0620 Mining engineer Frank Russell says he is “very, very positive” about the outcome of the rescue operation and added the experienced miners “know what to do to keep themselves safe and warm”.

• 0830 Police say the body of a miner has been located but has yet to be identified. All the families have been told. Chris Margetts, from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, says the dead miner was found on the “exit side of the body of water” and that it was “quite possible the team has been split”.

9.52am: The twittersphere is full of messages of sympathy and support for the miner who has been discovered dead at Gleision colliery.

@Ceri_Granv writes: Terrible news from the Swansea Valley this morning. All my thoughts are with the miners and their families at Gleision Colliery.

@welsh37 posts: Sad day one of the swansea miners has died, my thoughts are with their family.

@alicat21 writes: Thoughts with the miners families. They must be experiencing a living hell. Tragic


9.31am: Messages of sympathy from local MP Peter Hain and also the current Welsh secretary over the death of one miner who has yet to be identified.

Hain who is at the scene said:

I’ve spoken to the families – they’ve gone through a small hell. What’s been made worse, as has been reported, a miner has been found dead but they don’t know who it is so you can just imagine what they are going through.

It is almost worse than not knowing – knowing a bit but not knowing exactly and our hearts go out to everybody.

Sky news has reported that David Cameron has rung Hain to ensure that the rescue teams are getting everything they need to free the remaining three miners.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan has also offered her condolences:

I am extremely saddened to hear that one of the miners has been found dead. My heartfelt condolences go out to the families at this distressing time.

I know that the emergency services have been working extremely hard. I am being continually updated and my thoughts are with all involved as they continue to manage this most difficult situation.

9.11am: More from that press conference. Chris Margetts, from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said this about the circumstances of the dead miner and where he was found.

The search and rescue continues. Obviously we’ve had the disappointing news of discovering one of the miners [dead].

The miner that we found was in a different section of the mine. He was basically on the exit side on the body of water. So therefore the search and rescue mission continues because there are still air pockets on the other side of the body of water and there is a blockage down there yet to be searched.

So it is quite possible under the circumstances that as the incident has occurred, the team has split. And depending on where they were located, which is the best route to take and the miner we have found so far has obviously tried to make it up to the main exit where two the guys did make it out and unfortunately he hasn’t made it.

9.07am: Speaking to the Today programme, Gary Evans of the south and mid Wales cave rescue team described the situation down in the mines for the divers attempting to get to the three trapped miners.

He said he had been working until 2:30 this morning and his description gives a flavour of how difficult the rescue is.

These divers are amazing in what they can do. They were travelling in zero visibility and they made progress without any real difficulty but it was the debris in the water that prevented them from gaining further access to the tunnel….they couldn’t get beyond the flooded section

Really the things about the mines is there is not a lot of room down there. And all the emphasis in about pumping that water out.

Right now it is very noisy there’s people back and forward trying to make sure the pumps are working and certainly the conditions I was in it was very difficult, pitch black water, very cold. So not a great place to be working but there is a job to be done there.

8.59am: A police press conference has revealed that one miner has been found dead. Police do not yet now the identity of the body.

Superintendent Phil Davies told reporters at the scene: “A miner has been found. He is deceased. We are not in a current position to recover him from the mine and therefore we don’t know the identity of that person.

“This is a dynamic, ongoing search and rescue operation and all emergency services are working hard to get all the miners out of there as soon as possible.”

8.55am: Good morning. Welcome to our live blog of the rescue operation to save four miners who are currently trapped in a Welsh mine after flood waters broke through to the mine system from an old abandoned shaft.

• One miner has been reported as dead.

• The incident began on Thursday morning and the trapped miners have been named as Phillip Hill, 45, from Neath, Charles Bresnan, 62, David Powell, 50, and Garry Jenkins, 39, all from Swansea valley.

• Last night divers had to abandon their efforts after about 30 metres due to the hazardous conditions of the water.

• Local MP Peter Hain and shadow Welsh minster said “The fact that they have been trapped for so long is very, very disturbing,” he said.

• We are expecting a news conference shortly. © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds