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Friday, February 12, 1999 Published at 06:46 GMT


Aberfan papers to damn charity body

Rescuers search for survivors in the school's ruins

Released papers on the 1966 Aberfan landslide in Wales are expected to show that the Charity Commission tried to restrict payments to parents on the basis of whether or not they were close to the children they had lost.

The BBC's Melanie Doel: "Relieve need and assist the wider community"
Under the 30-year rule, papers containing potentially damning information about the commission's handling of the tragedy that that killed 144 people - 116 of them children - in the Mid-Glamorgan mining village will become available to the public on Friday.

New research into the disaster is also likely to reveal that while the Charity Commission was obstructing payments to parents, it failed to do anything to prevent the payment of £150,000 from the relief fund to the government to remove the remaining slag heaps situated around the village.

Pantglas Primary School was full when a massive quantity of slurry - a mixture of slag, or coal debris, water, rock and soil - gave way and slid at speeds of up to 50mph onto the village, flattening buildings and killing almost an entire generation of children.

[ image: £150,000 taken to remove other slag heaps]
£150,000 taken to remove other slag heaps
The tragedy stirred up international sympathy and money was contributed to the relief fund from all over the world.

It is understood that the trustees wanted to pay each family affected by the disaster £5,000 from the fund.

But in a move that is likely to be the subject of intense criticism, the Charity Commission is believed to have only wanted payments to be made after each case had been reviewed to ascertain how close parents were to their children and therefore whether or not they were suffering mentally.

At the time the trustees ignored the request and went ahead with the original plan for payments. The Charity Commission is thought to have allowed the suggestion to quietly drop.

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