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Four trapped coal miners named

Four miners trapped underground in a coal pit have been named as rescue efforts continued.

South Wales Police said the four men trapped at the Gleision Colliery near Cilybebyll in Pontardawe are Phillip Hill, 45, from Neath, along with Charles Bresnan, 62, David Powell, 50, and Garry Jenkins, 39, all from the Swansea Valley.

The force said emergency services are continuing a "multi-agency rescue operation", while the men's families are being supported by family liaison officers.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who is returning from a trip to Libya, said that "every support" would be given to the emergency services, who had still not made contact with the men.

"My thoughts are with those missing and their family and friends at this very difficult time," he said. "Every support will be given to the emergency services to ensure they continue to do all they can. In due course we must ensure we fully understand and learn from the causes of this accident."

Rescuers fighting to free the miners trapped 295ft (90m) underground said they believe they are all alive and well. Major rescue efforts are continuing but there is every prospect the men will be forced to spend the night underground.

A fifth miner remains critically ill in hospital after escaping as flood water engulfed the drift mine on Thursday morning. Two other men who were with him escaped largely unharmed and are aiding the rescue operation.

The alarm was raised at the pit at around 9.20am. A retaining wall holding back a body of water underground failed, flooding a tunnel that the seven men were in. It left four men trapped about 820ft (250m) along the tunnel at a depth of 295ft (90m).

No contact has yet been made with them, but rescuers believe the four, all fit and healthy seasoned miners, would have fled to an air pocket to await rescue.

Neath MP and former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain said tonight that he had spoken with family members, many of whom were in tears. He vowed himself that any resources needed would be brought in to help the rescue efforts. "Nothing is more important than the lives of these men," he said


From Belfast Telegraph