Trapped Miners In Welsh Mine: Four Confirmed Dead
All of the four miners who were trapped underground at the Gleision Colliery mine in Swansea, Wales, have been found dead, police confirmed on Friday.
Families and friends of the group had faced an agonising wait as rescue workers struggled to reach the bodies and police were unable to identify those killed.
A fifth miner is critically ill in hospital. Two other men who were with him escaped largely unharmed and are aiding the rescue operation.
Richard Smith, chief fire officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said the four men were found close to each other.
"One was on the exit side of the blockage as we know and the three that have been recovered this afternoon were all found together in the area where they had been working and they have since been recovered from the mine," he said.
Neath MP Peter Hain said the deaths of the four miners was a "stab through the heart" for the local community, and would be fully investigated.
"This is the end we all feared but hoped against hope wouldn't happen," he said.
"Extraordinary courage was shown by the families right through the night, tortuous hours of waiting. We can't imagine what they have been through."
Gary Evans of the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team said the rescue divers been blocked from venturing more than 30 metres into the mine as debris had made the water murky.
Prime Minister David Cameron said his thoughts were with the families. "It's clear to me that everything that could be done is being done... And it's a desperately sad situation."
Several other MPs, Welsh Assembly members and councillors have been consoling local people.
However, one resident, Linda Ware, has said that their support is not welcome. She told BBC Radio 5 live: "One thing that is really upsetting the people here in this community is the politicians on the televisions... This is private grief. The grief is of the families affected; this grief is not belonging to the nation."
Superintendent Phil Davies from South Wales Police earlier said that "all families have been informed" that the bodies had been found.
The miners were trapped 90 metres underground near Cilybebyll, Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley, since Thursday morning.
The Welsh rugby team, currently in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup, have sent their support for the miners.
The team's coach Warren Gatland said: "Our thoughts are very much with the miners, their families and friends. On behalf of the squad, we want to send that support back to Wales. It is very important for us," the Press Association reported.
Advancements in technology have meant mining disasters are relatively rare in Britain, although seven people have been killed in mining accidents here since 2006.
The worst mining accident in Britain occurred at the Senghenydd colliery disaster in Wales, when 439 miners were killed following a gas explosion in October 1913.