Four miners are trapped after an incident in a south Wales mine, according to South WalesPolice.
Emergency services were called to the private mine, Gleision Colliery, near Pontardawe after the alarm was raised at 9.21am this morning, according to a statement from police.
According to police, “a flood of water caused problems underground”.
A multi-agency operation is on-going to rescue the four individuals trapped, a spokesperson for South Wales Police confirmed.
Two individuals got out of the mine unaided prior to the arrival of the emergency services. They were taken to the nearby village hall after giving rescue teams information about what was going on underground.
One other person has been taken to Morriston Hospital in critical condition.
One mother outside the village hall was heard telling her toddler daughter: “Don’t worry, daddy will be back soon.”
Relatives and friends of the trapped miners were waiting anxiously in the village community centre for news.
Miners from neighbouring pits were called to help in the rescue operation.
One miner, his face blackened after working underground three miles away, said:
“As soon as we heard we stopped everything and got here. I’ve brought our water pumping equipment over but we don’t know what’s needed. Until we know the situation underground we won’t know how long it will take to get them out.”
Gleision Colliery is a “low tech” mine with two entrances, according to the mine rescue services. One of those entrances is impassable while the other has low oxygen, which requires use of special breathing apparatuses, ITV reporter Rupert Evelyn tweeted.
Gleision Colliery is one of five small collieries operating in Wales –four of those are producing coal at the moment, BBC journalist Huw Thomas tweeted.
The Health and Safety Executive told WalesOnline reporter Dan Fisher that Gleision Colliery was last inspected 2010. No enforcement action was taken.
First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, said:
“As someone with very strong family links with both the Swansea Valley and the mining industry, my thoughts and prayers – and those of the people of Wales – are with the trapped men and their families at this difficult time. My main priority and the priority of my Government is to ensure that those trapped are rescued as quickly and as safely as possible.”
Watch the First Minister’s full statement:
Another statement was issued on behalf of the Welsh Secretary:
The Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan has expressed her deep concern over miners trapped in Gleision Colliery, near Cilybebyll in Pontardawe today, 15th September 2011.
She said: “My thoughts are with the miners, their families and the emergency services working to free them. I am receiving regular updates from the Police Services and I will be praying for the safe rescue of all involved.”
Neath MP and former Labour Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain, tweeted:
Cancelled all meetings in Westminster, heading back to Neath after hearing of miners trapped in colliery.
South Wales Police said in a press conference this afternoon that a joint investigation will be launched with Health and Safety officials.
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