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Vol. 75/No. 35      October 3, 2011

Four workers killed in coal
mine flood in United Kingdom
PONTARDAWE, South Wales—Four coal miners at the Gleision colliery here—Phillip Hill, Garry Jenkins, David Powell, and Charles Breslin—were killed September 15 when a retaining wall holding back a body of water collapsed and flooded the mine.

The mine rescue team said that the flood occurred after miners broke into a previously mined area. The Welsh Assembly has announced a police inquiry into the deaths.

Gleision is small drift mine in which miners work seams of coal with shovels, kneeling or lying down in confined spaces.

“With the technology we have available today why are people still working in rat holes like this?” said David Jones, a former miner at the now closed Abernant colliery.

“People are desperate for jobs and some will take work even in conditions like those at Gleision,” said Sharon Davies, a health worker here. Official unemployment figures in Wales have risen to 8.4 percent, above the U.K. average of 7.9 percent.

The Gleision mine was recently reopened. Employing some 15 miners, it produced 200 tons of coal a week. Former mining safety officer Robert Murray-Willis said that small mines like Gleision were restarting production because the price of coal was rising, reported the Wales On Sunday.

“This mine should never have been opened,” Kevin Flynn, a retired school teacher from Pontardawe, told the Militant. Local Member of Parliament Peter Hain argued that mines should not be closed in response to the deaths.
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