Families of four Welsh miners killed after shaft flooded demand inquest into 2011 tragedy as survivors say deaths had been ‘swept under the carpet’
- Four miners were killed when the Gleision drift mine in Wales flooded in 2011
- The mine’s manager and owners were cleared of manslaughter charges in 2014
- However, survivors and relatives of the dead miners are demanding an inquest
The families of four Welsh miners who were killed in 2011 after a shaft flooded have demanded an inquest into the tragedy.
Charles Breslin, 62, David Powell, 50, Phillip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, all died when water flooded the Gleision drift mine, near Pontardawe, South Wales, in September 2011.
The mine’s manager and owners were cleared of manslaughter charges in 2014 and survivors of the tragedy claim the deaths have been ‘swept under the carpet’.
Charles Breslin’s widow Mavis added that she felt ‘cheated’ of a husband and an inquest after the acting coroner for Swansea decided not to not to hold full inquests following the 2014 trial.
Lynette Powell said all she had was a temporary death certificate and added: ‘That is no closure for me. I haven’t got an inquest. Not only for me, for all the families.’
Charles Breslin, 62 (left), David Powell, 50, Phillip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39 (right), all died when water flooded the Gleision drift mine in September 2011
David Powell, 50 (left), and Phillip Hill, 44 (right), were two of the victims of the disaster in south Wales in 2011
Today, two survivors of the tragedy told the BBC that they felt their colleagues’ deaths in 2011 had been ‘swept under the carpet’.
Jake Wyatt, 68, and Nigel Evans, 49, said they felt authorities had failed to get to the bottom of what might have caused the tragedy.
MNS Mining Ltd, which ran the mine at the time, denied four charges of corporate manslaughter by failing to ensure a safe system of work was in place.
Pit boss Malcolm Fyfield was one of seven people working inside the Gleision drift mine when a shaft flooded in 2011. He survived after crawling out through sludge and dirt.
As he was being treated by paramedics, Swansea Crown Court heard he told paramedics: ‘They’ve gone. There is no hope for the others.’
Father-of-two Fyfield pleaded not guilty to four counts of manslaughter during the 2014 trial.
Lee Reynolds, a former surveyor for Gleision mine who gave evidence in the trial, called on authorities to assess whether opportunities to improve safety at the mine had been missed.
Gleision mine in 2008. MNS Mining Ltd, which ran the mine at the time of the 2011 tragedy, denied four charges of corporate manslaughter by failing to ensure a safe system of work was in place
He said: ‘When you get a major incident – and I believe four people getting killed tragically is a major incident – they have a prior role investigation. It should be undertaken independently.
‘With what we’re finding in our investigation, a prior role investigation should have been undertaken, but wasn’t.’
Conditions in the mine were said to be cramped, with the ceiling height at just 77cm, almost 20cm lower than a standard kitchen worktop.
An HSE spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment on the points raised by Mr Reynolds and the families.
The spokesman added: ‘Our thoughts are with the families on this poignant anniversary. We supported the South Wales Police investigation at the time which ended in a manslaughter trial, but HSE did not bring any charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in addition to their prosecution.’