THE Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, led tributes to the four miners who died at the Gleision drift mine at Cilybebyll, near Swansea, last week.
Dr Morgan said that his heart went out to the families of those killed when water filled the seam that was being worked. “I hope they will gain some comfort from knowing that everyone in Wales and beyond is behind them, and that the whole community is heartbroken for them.
“I would also tell them that God is always to be found on the side of those who suffer and mourn, sharing their sorrow and grief.”
Dr Morgan reminisced about his father, a miner, who knew “at first-hand about what a tough and dangerous job it was, and still is. Miners don’t talk about the dangers as they don’t want to worry their families; they treat it like any other job and get on with it.”
He said that people believed the days of terrible accidents were long gone, “but sadly the events of the past days showed this is not the case.”
Dr Morgan, who grew up about seven miles from Cilybebyll, has been appointed a trustee of the Swansea Valley Miners appeal fund. A collection for the appeal was taken at the meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales this week.
Churches near the mine have been open all week to allow people to light candles and say prayers.
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Menevia, the Rt Revd Tom Burns, also expressed his condolences to the families and friends of the four miners who died: Charles Breslin, David Powell, Garry Jenkins, and Phillip Hill.
He said that the Church wished to express its “sense of grief and our common sharing in the sadness of those bereaved by this terrible and unexpected disaster”.
The long history of mining in Wales had had its fair share of tragedies, he said, but until this incident there had been no deaths for almost 40 years.
“I am sure that the resilience of the close communities and the reassurance of prayers will be of great comfort to those who have lost loved ones.”
The Revd Dr Peter Lewis, Area Dean of Neath, and Vicar of the Vale of Neath, said that people were still coming to terms with the disaster. One of the victims, Phillip Hill, had lived in his parish, and Dr Lewis would be taking his funeral.