Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Statement on the Gleision tragedy
This statement was delivered by Carwyn Jones to the Welsh Assembly
"Members will be familiar with the key facts surrounding the tragedy at Gleision Colliery drift mine near Pontardawe at the end of last week.
We now know that 4 miners from a party of 7 were trapped by water in a ventilation shaft. Three miners escaped. We also know that efforts to rescue the remaining four trapped men were unsuccessful. The four miners were Charles Breslin, David Powell, Garry Jenkins and Phillip Hill; all were local to the Swansea and Neath Valleys. I know that all Members will join me in offering sincere condolences to the bereaved families. Our thoughts are with them and the wider community that shares in their loss.
There was a time in our history when mining tragedies were sadly common. We had hoped that these events were in the past. The incident at Gleision is a tragic reminder of the dangers associated with the mining industry.
South Wales Police are leading the investigation in accordance with the Work-Related Deaths Protocol agreed between the police, HSE, Local Authorities and the Crown Prosecution Service. The Health and Safety Executive is providing technical support. At a later stage it may be appropriate for the HSE to take the lead in the investigation, as has happened in other incidents. I expect a full report into the causes of the investigation to be published in due course so that any lessons learnt can be applied elsewhere.
I would like to pay tribute to the emergency services and rescue teams who worked unstintingly, and at personal risk, to search for the miners. These include the police, fire and ambulance services along with the mines and caves rescue services.
Mining communities are traditionally close-knit and supportive to those in need. We saw this through the immediate response of the community in setting up a base at Rhos Community Centre to support the families and loved ones of the miners. No one can fail to have been impressed by the kindness shown by neighbours at a time of need.
Llywydd, I’ve referred to the shared history of coal mining which still forms a powerful bond among communities in many parts of our country. The tragedy at Gleision is a tragedy for Wales."
A response followed by each party leader.