Prince and Princess of Wales meet survivors of Aberfan disaster

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A survivor of the Aberfan disaster who was mistaken for dead and placed among the bodies of other children met the Prince and Princess of Wales during their first visit to the Welsh town.

Child survivor David Davies was buried alive when thousands of tonnes of slurry engulfed Pantglas Junior School in 1966.

The landslide, which came from a colliery spoil tip towering above the school, killed 144 people including 116 children.

Rescuers recovered him hours later and placed him among dozens of dead pupils until someone saw his foot move.

The survivor, now 64, led William and Kate on a tour of the Aberfan Memorial Garden on Friday, the site of his former school, opened by the Queen in 1974 to commemorate victims.

The royal couple were greeted by cheering crowds waving Welsh flags as they arrived at the village.

They were introduced to Mair Morgan, one of only four teachers to have survived the disaster and the only one still alive today.

Royal visit to Wales
The Princess of Wales during her visit to the Aberfan memorial garden (Ben Birchall/PA)

The former teacher recalled the “jet engine” roar of 150,000 tonnes of coal waste as it rushed towards the school just as lessons had begun on the morning of October 21 1966.

She ushered her pupils into the street before returning to the school and smashing windows to pull children out of the wreckage.

After speaking with Ms Morgan, the Prince and Princess met with the Aberfan Wives – a group of mothers who lost children to the disaster – before paying their respects at a tree planted by the Queen in 1997.

Speaking after their visit, Ms Morgan said: “It means a lot because it shows that people still remember the terrible tragedy. It will be in people’s minds forever.”

Before departing, the royals spoke with several members of the public.

Royal visit to Wales
Lucy Williams, from Aberfan, holds her son Daniel as he takes the handbag of the Princess of Wales (Ben Birchall/PA)

The “priceless moment” was caught on camera as Kate left the child to play with the bag for several minutes.

Mr Davies, who chairs the Aberfan Memorial Charity, said the couple’s visit continued the “close connection” between the village and the royal family, established by the late Queen when she visited eight days after the tragedy.

Her decision not to visit sooner was said to have been one of the greatest regrets of her reign.

She returned repeatedly to Aberfan throughout her life, visiting three further times and opening Ynysowen Primary School in 2012.

“It is clearly an important matter for them that they have shown the empathy and interest that they have for nearly 60 years,” said Mr Davies.

“And I know from speaking to those that were present here today that they certainly appreciated their presence.”

The disaster was the result of one of seven spoil tips that sat on slopes above the village collapsing.

The one that devastated the village below was created in 1958, stood 111ft high and went against the National Coal Board’s (NCB) rules because it was partly built on ground which had water springs underneath.

After three weeks of heavy rain, the slurry slipped down the side of the hill.

Despite suffering from severe head injuries, Mr Davies left hospital after two weeks.

Recalling the ordeal, he said: “When I was brought out I was initially placed with the other dead bodies covered in a blanket until someone thought they saw my foot move.

“So I was re-examined and, evidently still alive, taken to hospital.

“I was rendered unconscious because I was quite near to the wall that faced the tip and made the initial impact.

“So my situation is rather different from those who, because they were wide awake, witnessed other horrendous things that were going on around them.”

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