Thursday, October 20, 2011

This Day in History October 21, 1966

A great tragedy happened on this day in 1966--one I had not ever heard about.  The small town of Aberfan in Wales experienced a terrible mudslide at 9:15 A.M.  To make it eerier, it was a Friday (so is today!). School had just begun at Pantglass Junior School.  The mudslide first destroyed a farm cottage (and killed all occupants).  The children were just returning from a morning assembly, and although the mudslide was seen and heard, no alarm could have been sounded--and it happened so fast, nothing could have been done anyway.

In total, half of the children (116) were killed, and five of their teachers were killed.  In total, 144 people were killed.  No one was rescued alive after 11 A.M. the morning of the disaster, and it took nearly a week to recover all the bodies.  When they recovered the body of the head deputy teacher, he was holding the bodies of five children in his arms.

Investigations were made concerning the cause of this horrible mudslide.  There had been heavy rain in the area, and mine workers noticed cracks in the tip.  But nothing more was done before the disaster to investigate.  The mudslide was 45 feet deep outside the school, and most of the school was completely engulfed.  It was finally determined after 5 months of inquiry that the tip had blocked the natural course of water down the hill, and pressure had built up thus causing the devastating mudslide.  

I think what tugs at my heart is the stories of the survivors on the various sites I will list at the bottom of this post.  It is worth your going to the site and reading the eyewitness accounts.  And I suppose, that since I am a teacher, this really touches me. I realize that you never do know when it might be your last day on this earth.  I am certain that all of the people killed in this tragedy did not plan on that morning being their last on earth.  I can only hope and pray that they told their families that they loved them and did not leave this earth with unresolved bitterness or hatred in their hearts.

If you would like more information (and a chance to check out eyewitness accounts), please check out the following sites:

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