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Last Updated: Friday October 20 2006 14:49 GMT

Aberfan disaster: What happened?

Rescuers try to dig people out of the Aberfan school

A south Wales village is remembering a disaster that led to the deaths of 116 children 40 years ago.

The village is called Aberfan and the disaster happened when tonnes of muddy coal mining waste piled on to a hillside slid down the valley and on to a school.

Twenty-eight adults also died in the tragedy.

Find out more about what happened here...


  • Pupils had just begun their day at Pantglas Junior School when the landslide happened on 21, October 1966

    The landslide covered the school
    The landslide covered the school

  • The school was destroyed, along with about 20 houses. A total of 144 adults and children were killed

  • The landslide was higher than a house and picked up trees, boulders and bricks as it travelled down the hillside

  • Many people rushed to the scene and started digging with their hands to try to free people trapped by the landslide. Eventually, bulldozers and lorries were brought in to clear the area.

  • Some 3,000 people gathered for a mass funeral for the victims, which was held a week after the disaster

  • The organisation in charge of the mine said that heavy rainfall had caused the mining waste to slip down the hillside.

    Graves of the victims
    Graves of the victims

  • An inquiry later found that the organisation - called National Coal Board - was to blame and should pay compensation to the people affected.

  • The mines have now closed and the tips have gone.

  • Pantglas school was demolished and a memorial garden now stands on the site.



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