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Friday, 16 November, 2001, 12:23 GMT
Families' call to honour blast heroes
The Corus steel plant in Port Talbot
The smoke has settled but hurt remains in Port Talbot
An open letter from the families of some of those injured in last week's explosion at the Port Talbot steelworks have called for two brave rescuers to be honoured.

The families want the bravery of members of the Corus rescue team who led the emergency services in the search for survivors to be recognised.

Three men were killed and another five remain in a critical condition at Morriston Hospital following the explosion on 8 November.

On Thursday, around 1,000 people attended a service of prayer and reflection at St Theodore's Church, Port Talbot, where a minute's silence was observed at 1717GMT - exactly a week after the fatal accident.

Stephen Galsworthy
Stephen Galsworthy died in the blast
The families of the injured have used the local newspaper - The South Wales Evening Post - to pay tribute to the 30 men who were members of the rescue team, who led the fire service in their search for survivors.

The account describes how two men entered the building which houses blast furnace number 5.

It describes how 27-year-old Richard Pugh, from Baglan, and 25-year-old Gareth Edwards from Margam " acted in a selfless way when they risked their own lives to save others".

"These 30 men, but especially the two who entered the blast furnace area, are owed a great debt by the families here, whatever the next few days, weeks and months may bring," says the letter.

The letter goes on to ask that the men should be given a bravery award for what they did.

Five men remain on life-support machines at Swansea's Morriston Hospital burns unit following the explosion.

Len Radford, steelworker killed at Port Talbot
Len Radford: Died following blast
And four others are recovering in general hospital wards.

The funerals for the three men who died after the Port Talbot steel works explosion will be held next week.

Stephen Galsworthy, who was 25, will be buried in Margam on Tuesday after a service at St Joseph's Church in Port Talbot.

Later that day, there will be a service for his colleague 53-year-old Len Radford at Margam Crematorium.

On Wednesday, 20-year-old Andrew Hutin will be buried at Margam following a service at Ebenezer Welsh Baptist Church.

Relatives have asked for donations to be made the burns unit at Swansea's Morriston Hospital.

A book of condolences was opened at St Theodore's Church earlier in the week.

Steelworker and local councillor Tony Taylor said it was important "lessons were learned" from the tragedy.

"The mood at the plant is still despondent. I talked to the shift working that night and they were very down," he said.

The Health and Safety Executive, which is carrying out an inquiry jointly with South Wales Police, has said it could be three weeks before investigators are able to access the site.

Andrew Hutin: Body found by rescuers
Andrew Hutin: Body found by rescuers
While the rest of the Corus plant has reopened, hazardous conditions and continuing high temperatures are hampering the probe.

In the House of Commons on Wednesday, the prime minister offered his sympathies to the victims' families, describing the blast as a "terrible tragedy."

In Cardiff Bay, Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan denied to the economic development committee there had been leakages of molten metal from the number five furnace since 1994.

Mr Morgan has recently leapt to the defence of Corus, which has claimed the furnace was safe despite contrary claims made by workers to local AM Janet Davies.

The company, which is conducting its own investigation into the incident, maintains the facility was undergoing regular maintenance at the time of the blast.

BBC Wales's Rebecca John
"St Theodore's Church stands in the shadow of the steelworks."
BBC Wales's Gilbert John at St Theodore's Church
"The furnaces are a reminder three have died"
BBC Wales's Gilbert John reports
"This service has given the community a purpose"
Father Colin Amos, St Theodore's Church
"I hope this service provided a small but clear oasis of healing for the families of those involved"
See also:

12 Nov 01 | Wales
Third Corus blast worker dies
09 Nov 01 | Wales
Steelworker killed in explosion
16 Jun 00 | Wales
Steel jobs go at Port Talbot
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