|In this Oct. 22, 1966 file photo, rescue workers shovel the wet coal waste 28 hours after it slipped down the man-made mountain of coal waste and engulfed the Pantglas Junior School, and some houses, in Aberfan, Wales. Fifty years ago an avalanche of mine waste swept down on a Welsh village and killed 116 children and 28 adults. Britain recalls the disaster that led to tougher rules on safety and fed a distrust of government that continues to this day. (AP Photo/File)|
LONDON (AP) — People across Britain fell silent Friday to mark 50 years since a mountain of coal sludge collapsed onto a village in Wales, killing more than 140 people in one of the country's worst mining disasters.
On Oct. 21, 1966, a mine dump above Aberfan collapsed, sending an avalanche of waste cascading downhill, demolishing 18 homes and Pantglas Junior School. The wave of rubble killed 116 children and 28 adults.
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said it was "a truly heart-breaking moment in our history, and no one who learns about the disaster can fail to be profoundly moved by it."
A minute's silence was held at 9:15 a.m., the exact moment disaster struck.
Later, Prince Charles met survivors, planted a tree in a memorial garden and unveiled a plaque in memory of the victims.
Charles read a message from his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. She recalled her own visit to Aberfan after the disaster with husband Prince Philip, "and the posy I was given by a young girl, which bore the heart-breaking inscription, 'From the remaining children of Aberfan.'"
"Since then, we have returned on several occasions and have always been deeply impressed by the remarkable fortitude, dignity and indomitable spirit that characterizes the people of this village and the surrounding valleys," the queen said.