London: One miner has been found dead and three others remain trapped following a flash flood in a coal mine in south Wales, police and emergency workers said on Friday.
Rescue workers found the man overnight but were unable to recover his body from a flooded shaft and so could not identify him, leaving the families of the missing men uncertain which of them had suffered a tragedy.
Three other men escaped from the small private Gleision Colliery in the Swansea Valley following the accident on Thursday and one was taken to hospital. They said a wall to an old working had failed, flooding the main 250 metre route into the mine.
A fire and rescue service spokesman said they believed the remaining miners were on the other side of a blockage caused when water rushed in where the men had been working.
There has been no contact with the missing men since the accident, but the spokesman said there were still air pockets where the men were thought to be.
Rescue workers were pumping water out of the flooded shaft and were starting to remove debris blocking the way. But it could take some time before they reached where they believed the remaining miners were, the spokesman said.
"It is going to take us a considerable amount of time to excavate safely in order to break through. We can`t just start digging the mine out, we cannot risk any form of collapse," the spokesman added.
Local MP Peter Hain said the families of the missing miners had gone through a "small hell."
"What`s been made worse, a miner has been found dead, but they don`t know who it is. So you can just imagine what they are going through," Hain told reporters.
Wales, once famous for the mines in its valleys, has only a handful of remaining working mines, small and privately held, mostly supplying thermal coal for power stations.
The worst mining accident in British history was in 1913 at the Senghenydd colliery, when 439 miners were killed after a gas explosion.
Gleision Colliery is a private mine operating under a steep hillside above the banks of the river Tawe.
The Miner`s Advice website said the colliery was "a safety lamp mine with severe water problems which require the use of a powerful sump pump."