Three Welsh miners dead after colliery flood

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Three miners trapped by flash flooding in a colliery in Wales were found dead on Friday as rescuers continued to search for a fourth man.

The third death was confirmed by rescue services as an ambulance was seen leaving the remote hillside mine near Cilybebyll, south Wales, at around 3:10 pm (1410 GMT).

The four men had become trapped more than 24 hours earlier by flood waters which broke through a retaining wall.

The second dead miner had been discovered three hours earlier by rescuers operating 90 metres (295 feet) under the surface in what local lawmaker Peter Hain described as "debris, sludge and dark, dark murky water".

The first body was found overnight after divers sent into the mine could only proceed about 30 metres (100 feet) before having to turn back.

As relatives were given the grim news, Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones expressed his sadness.

He said: "My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with all of the families as this horrifying news filters through.

"I would like to pay tribute to the tireless work the rescue teams have done and continue to do throughout this incident.

"The people of Wales, and indeed people across the world, stand together in solidarity with the families through this terrible tragedy."

The four miners have been named as Phillip Hill, 45, Charles Bresnan, 62, David Powell, 50, and Garry Jenkins, 39.

Seven men were in the mine when it was hit by flooding but three managed to escape. One is in hospital in a critical condition and two others are helping with the rescue.

The accident has shocked the tight-knit community in south Wales, which had not experienced a mining accident for years due to the almost complete disappearance of the industry following a period of rapid decline in the 1980s.

"Everybody is rallying round but everybody is traumatised because they have not known this horror now for a generation or more," said Hain.

Wales was once a coal mining heartland but only a handful of collieries remain.

© 2011 AFP

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