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Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience

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Remembering the Aberfan Disaster

(21 October 2011)

On its 45th anniversary, Dave Petley reviews the Aberfan Disaster and why lessons from the tragedy still need to be learned globally.

From the Press Release:

“The dreadful calamity of the Aberfan landslide disaster remains perhaps the most poignant and memorable disaster in the UK since the Second World War. The combination of a failure of responsibility by the relevant authorities, the dreadful events in the moment of the landslide, the heroic but mostly futile rescue attempts and the regrettable behaviour of some parties in the aftermath of the disaster created an extraordinary mix from which there was much to learn.  There are many positive legacies of the disaster, most notably the dramatic improvements to the management of mine wastes here, but there is still much to do to ensure that these lessons are absorbed elsewhere in the world.

He added:

“The psychological trauma that has afflicted the survivors of the accident is unknowable to an extent; a psychiatric study in 2003 indicated many who lived through the disaster continue to suffer regular bouts of post-traumatic stress. Yet the majority of survivors refused to take part.”

Dave co-authored an article with Brett Cherry that reviews the Aberfan Disaster and its aftermath. The article is posted on IHRR's Blog and The Landslide Blog.  The story has received media coverage from the BBC, WalesOnline and others.

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