The Aberfan Disaster

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Some of us will know the horrific date, 21st October 1966.

For those who don’t, this is the date when 28 adults and 116 children died. Yes, you read correctly: 28 adults and 116 children.

This is the story of the Aberfan Disaster.

Who would imagine themselves dying in school? No one, and definitely not these young children and adults. Picture this:

You get up as a little child, and you’re so excited to go to school and play with your friends. You think of playing with your new little blue toy car or your little dolly, dressed up in all pink with her hair long blonde and curly.

You think you can rule the world.

You get ready and go your normal route to school. You are jumping and running, excited to show off your new toy. When you see your friends, you run to show them. Then, your mam gives you a big soppy kiss on the cheek and says: “I love you, have a good day at school,” really loud while tapping your bum. You are going to line up for school. In your little squeaky voice you say, “I love you, Mammy, bye bye,” before going into class, where the teacher calls the register. She calls your name. As you say “here, Miss,” your friends giggle. Now that she has finished, she tells you how your day is going to be planned out.

When she is doing this, you sit around the table with your friends and think about your play time. You are learning your two-times table and you can’t wait to play with your new toy with your friends. Then, suddenly, you hear a weird noise that you have never heard before. The ground starts shaking, you are crying and you don’t know what to do. Your teacher suddenly says, “Children, get under your tables.” You do as she says, giggling and laughing with your friends, thinking this is a new game. But it’s not! Suddenly, the roof collapses. All the dust and bricks and wood are plummeting down on you. You’re stuck, and try to move. 

Then, there’s no movement. No movement anywhere.

Outside, it looks like a tip. It no longer looks like a school, and the houses next to it are the same. There are police and fire fighters. Your mam is crying, your dad staying strong. Luckily, your sister and brother were okay. But they have lost you.

If only they had listened to the warning, that all the waste and stones would fall if they didn’t clean it up. Then, none of this would have happened and you would have been able to show your new toy, to go home and play with it more. But no one listens, not then and not now.

How did it all happen, you ask?

Well, it started at 9:15am, and the children had come back into class from assembly, where they’d been singing “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

The tipping gang on the mountain had seen the start of the slide going down, but they could not alarm anyone because the telephone cable had been stolen. The inquiry soon said that the phone=call wouldn’t have saved anyone or done anything different because the slide was moving so quick. In the valley, it couldn’t be seen and was only heard. Four years on, one 8 year old can still remember the noise of the slide.

The slide damaged 20 houses, as well as the school. Altogether 144 people died, and this changed the valley forever.

What have they done?

They have made a remembrance garden where the school had been for all those who died in the disaster. The children all have their own graves in the cemetery, with photos of those who passed away.

I hope this has given you a lot to think about. Thank you for reading.

Image: agu

Related Article: 11th September 2001: A Tragic Date In History

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