Gleision tragedy: 'Appeal is for families, not to fund rescues'

A trustee of the appeal fund for the families of the four miners killed in the Gleision colliery tragedy has rejected calls for some money to go towards future rescue operations.

Wayne Thomas said the fund was set up to help families after the incident at the drift mine, near Pontardawe.

But local deputy mayor Huw Evans said there is a "strong feeling" in the Swansea Valley that some money should be given towards funding rescue teams.

The rescue service rejected the idea.

Speaking on BBC Radio Cymru's Taro'r Post programme, Pontardawe deputy mayor Huw Evans said: "There's a strong feeling in the Swansea Valley that part of the money raised must be given to the rescue teams so that when incidents like this occur, there would be further support in order to avoid deaths in the future."

'Not appropriate'

But his suggestion was not accepted by the Swansea Valley Miner's Appeal Fund secretary, Wayne Thomas.

"People have been very generous and have donated their money specifically towards the families," he said.

"If we were to give some money towards the rescue teams, then where would this end? It would be a dangerous path to take."

It was announced on Thursday that the appeal fund stands at £970,000.

David Powell, 50, Charles Breslin, 62, Philip Hill, 44, and Garry Jenkins, 39, died, and three others escaped when the Gleision drift mine flooded on 15 September.

An investigation is being carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and South Wales Police.

Dr Barrie Jones, chief operating officer for the Mine Rescue Service, a private company which provides a rescue service and training, said it would not be appropriate to accept any money.

"People have donated for other reasons," he said.

He said the issue over funding the service has been on-going for 10 years.

Neath MP Peter Hain said the service should be allowed to use Treasury resources.

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