South West Wales

Gleision deaths: Moment of flood sounded like 'jet engine'

Gleision mining victims Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption Garry Jenkins, 39, Philip Hill, 44, David Powell, 50, and Charles Breslin, 62, all died

A miner who almost died in a Swansea Valley pit said the moment 650,000 gallons of water flooded the mine sounded like a "jet engine".

David "Jake" Wyatt was close to tears as he recalled the horror at the Gleision mine near Pontardawe to Swansea Crown Court on Friday.

He said water pinned him against the mine's wall and he rolled over a conveyor belt to escape.

Manager Malcolm Fyfield and the mine's owners MNS deny manslaughter charges.

David Powell, 50, Garry Jenkins, 39, Philip Hill, 44, and Charles Breslin, 62, all died in the tragedy on 15 September, 2011.

Mr Wyatt was at his work station operating a conveyor belt and just yards from victim Mr Jenkins when the tragedy struck.

They were working in cramped conditions, he told the court, where the roof height was just 2ft 6in (0.7m) in places.

Another colleague, Nigel Evans, was nearer the surface at the bottom of the main drift at the time.

"Suddenly there was a hell of a noise, like a jet engine, a tremendous whooshing. Me and Garry both said together 'Run'," said Mr Wyatt, who told the court he then jumped onto the conveyor belt.

"I crawled and crawled," he said.

"I looked behind, there was no sign of Garry, no light.

"I could hear the noise behind me getting louder and louder. Then for a second it pinned me against the wall."

Mr Wyatt told jurors he rolled over the conveyor belt and managed to get around 50 yards (45m) up the main drift until exhaustion forced him to stop.

He said the water stopped just yards behind him.

"If it had still been moving I probably wouldn't be here," he told the jury.

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Media captionDavid Wyatt described how he had been pinned down by the volume of water

On Thursday, fellow miner Nigel Evans told the court he ran for his life to escape.

He felt a gush of wind and heard Mr Wyatt telling him to "run".

"I didn't look back. I was going as fast as I could go," he said.

The court was told the pair later went back inside the mine to find their colleagues.

Mr Evans, who had only been working at the mine for three days, told the court he saw manager Mr Fyfield leaving the mine and bleeding from his head.

'No chance'

"I asked him where the others were. He said, they're gone," he said.

Previously, the court was told by surface worker Andrew Giles, the son of David Powell, he "knew straight away there was no chance for them boys".

Mr Giles said he heard Mr Evans running out of the pit shouting.

"We stopped everything we were doing and ran around to Nigel and he said straight away to phone the police and mine rescue," he told the court.

"I couldn't speak for long because I knew my father was down there... I was in shock."

The court has previously heard that Mr Fyfield was one of seven men working in the mine at the time of the explosion and survived after he crawled out through sludge and dirt.

The case continues.

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Malcolm Fyfield was one of seven men working in the mine near Pontardawe

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