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Sunday, 21 October, 2001, 16:23 GMT 17:23 UK
Aberfan remembers village dead
Aberfan
The Aberfan disaster remains fresh in many minds
Relatives of the victims of the Aberfan disaster have gathered in the south Wales village for a service remembering the 35th anniversary of the tragedy.

The community, near Merthyr Tydfil, was devastated in 1966 when a collapsing coal waste tip swept over a school and houses, killing 116 children and 28 adults.

Mayor Royston Thomas laid a wreath at the small service at the village cemetery.

He was a fireman at the time of the tragedy and helped to pull bodies from the wreckage and slurry.

The coal waste tip by the nearby colliery slid down the hillside after being weakened by heavy rain.

No prosecutions

It took only five minutes to envelop 20 cottages and smash into the Pantglas Junior School.

The children had just returned from singing hymns at their morning assembly when the waste engulfed the building.

The National Coal Board were blamed by many for the accident and paid compensation although no prosecutions were launched.

It was believed that a stream under the tip, which coal board officials claimed to have no knowledge of, became swollen and made the waste unstable.

On the road outside the school the slurry reached a height of 30ft and the last body was not recovered until a week after the disaster.

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