Stretford , Urmston , Trafford Photographer

Inquiry Launched Into Death Of Welsh Miners

An inquiry has been launched after four men died in a mining tragedy that “stabbed through the heart” of a community.

Tributes will be paid to the dead men before Swansea City’s home game this afternoon, when the victims will be formally identified.

Experts have started to examine the mine in the Swansea Valley for clues as to exactly what went wrong.

Questions are being asked about the safety of some of the low tech mining equipment used at the Gleision Colliery .

The mine is subject to modern safety guidelines, but it is small in scale and has cramped tunnels and little mechanisation.

Meanwhile, the close-knit community is continuing to support the families of the dead men; Philip Hill, Charles Breslin, David Powell and Garry Jenkins.

Police described the sad conclusion to the rescue efforts as “the one none of us wanted”.

The alarm was raised early on Thursday after the shaft flooded, trapping the victims.

It had been hoped that the miners – originally part of a group of seven – might have found refuge in an air pocket following the accident.

:: Click here for more pictures of the tragedy

But the bad news came through gradually yesterday, with police announcing at 6pm that the body of the last of the four had been found at the pit.

Peter Vaughan, Chief Constable of South Wales Police , said: “We’ve tried to bring this safely to its conclusion.

“Unfortunately the conclusion we have is the one none of us wanted.”

Expressing his condolences to the men’s relatives, he said: “I can’t begin to imagine what the families are going through.”

Fire and rescue and ambulance workers said they had never seen or worked in such conditions before.

The men’s bodies were found close together, one on the exit side of the blockage and the other three in the area where they had been working.

The tragedy sent shockwaves through the Swansea Valley community, which had been desperately hoping that the last man would be found alive.

Mr Vaughan said: “We’ve been humbled by the community spirit that’s been shown during this most tragic of incidents.”

And he asked for the privacy of the families of Mr Hill, 45, from Neath, Mr Breslin, 62, Mr Powell, 50, and Mr Jenkins, all from the Swansea Valley, to be respected.

One of the three miners who managed to escape the drift mine when it flooded has been named in reports as Daniel Powell, son of victim David Powell.

Of the three who escaped, one is now critically ill in hospital. The two other men who were with him emerged largely unharmed and helped the rescue operation.

Messages of support have poured in from around the world, with well-wishers everywhere praying for some good news until the final death was announced.