Welsh mine tragedy: Safety pledge on Gleision deaths

Safety experts have promised lessons will be learned from the investigation into the tragedy which killed four men at a Swansea Valley mine.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says it is too early to know what caused flooding at Gleision Colliery.

Police have now formally identified the men who died, and revealed the order in which they were discovered.

Garry Jenkins, 39, was found first, followed by David Powell, 50, Phillip Hill, 44, and then Charles Breslin, 62.

The body of Mr Jenkins was discovered early on Friday after the alarm had been raised on Thursday morning.

Emergency services found the bodies of the other three later on Friday. Mr Hill was from Neath and the other three men were from the Swansea Valley. All the bodies have been recovered.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan has announced there will be an inquiry, which will initially be led by South Wales Police before it is handed over to the HSE.

In a joint statement, the HSE and Wales Office said it was too early to give a possible cause.

HSE specialist mine inspectors are on site working closely with the police.

A spokesperson said: "A full report into the causes of the accident is to be published in due course to ensure that any lessons can be applied."

On Saturday Neath MP Peter Hain said he had spoken to the families of the dead miners, none of whom had reported any safety concerns at the mine.

He said: "The investigation will establish what happened."

An appeal fund has been launched to raise money for relatives.

On Saturday morning a miners' remembrance tribute was held at the church hall in Neath Road, Resolven.

The Reverend Peter Lewis, vicar of the Vale of Neath parish, said people would continue to gather to light a candle, pray and leave a message of support and sympathy.

He said the public levels of support were a "massive" help to the families of the miners.

"I think they were very appreciative that there are all these people who are taking a real interest and have concern for them."

Organisers of sporting events across the region are among those paying their respects.

On Friday a minute's silence was held at the Glamorgan cricket ground in Cardiff, where England faced India.

Swansea City FC held a minute's silence before the team's home Premier League match against West Bromwich Albion.

'Loss affects us all'

Chairman Huw Jenkins said: "As I'm sure all the players, management, staff and supporters of Swansea City will reiterate, this is a friendly and close-knit community where someone's loss affects us all.

"Our sympathy goes out to the families who have lost loved ones in extremely sad circumstances."

The Ospreys players will wear armbands in memory of the miners at Saturday's game in Treviso as will the Llanelli Scarlets at their match against Munster.

A tribute will also be arranged for the Ospreys home game next weekend.

Flags at Parc y Scarlets are at half-mast on Saturday.

Speaking at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said: "This tragedy has shaken all of those who are involved in the national team.

Image caption Floral tributes at a road junction near the Gleision Colliery

"Mining has been a huge tradition and history in Wales and the Welsh Rugby Union players and management's thoughts are with all the miners' families and friends who have been through such a difficult time."

Several members of the Wales squad have also tweeted messages of support.

David Lewis, the councillor for nearby Alltwen, said: "The support in this particular community has been immense and I'm sure the support will continue for a long time for those families."

Among those leaving flowers at the scene on Saturday was Maria Spooner, councillor for Rhos.

Mrs Spooner said: "I've spent the last two days with the families in the community centre, so this is the first chance I've had to come here and pay my respects.

"The whole community is very, very quiet but everyone has been amazing in rallying round.

"I've just been up to the village to thank the shopkeepers for donating supplies to people at the community centre over the last few days."

As the hopes of the miners' families ended on Friday evening with the announcement that the fourth body had been found, First Minister Carwyn Jones called for the focus of people's attention to be on supporting them in their grief.

Mr Jones said the colliery had been well-regulated.

Image caption Rescue workers at Gleision Colliery during the effort to save the miners. Picture: Carl Ryan

"As far as this mine is concerned it was inspected last year and the plans were up to date in June."

The investigation will look at exactly what happened, but mining experts said operating near old workings which contain water was always a hazard.

The incident began at 09:15 BST on Thursday when emergency services were called to the drift mine at Cilybebyll.

Three miners had managed to escape as flood water engulfed the mine's shaft when a retaining wall holding back a body of water underground failed.

One was taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea, where he remained overnight, while the other two joined the rescue effort.

Water that was blocking the miners' exit was pumped out of the mine, and oxygen pumped in.

But when divers moved into the mine early on Friday the body of the first miner was discovered at the bottom of the main shaft.

The second man was found at lunchtime, believed to be close to where he was working. Police confirmed during Friday that the remaining two bodies had been discovered.