The Aberfan Disaster

The Aberfan Disaster


“Mummy, I’m not afraid to die.”
Her mother responded, “Why do you talk of dying, and you so young; do you want a lollipop?” “No,” she said, “but I shall be with Peter and June.”
The day before the devastation she said, “Mummy, let me tell you about my dream last night.”
“Darling, I’ve no time to listen,” her mother said. “Tell me again later.”
“No, Mummy, you must listen,” she persisted. “I dreamt I went to school and there was no school there. Something black had come down all over it!”
The child was killed the next day and was buried in a communal grave with two friends who also lost their lives ––Peter on one side, June on the other. The story was put together by a local clergyman and was verified and signed by both the little girl’s parents as correct.

-source: Barker, J.C. “Premonitions of the Aberfan Disaster.” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, December 1967: page 24


Aberfan disaster

On the cold morning of October 21st, 1966, a deafening rumble shook the quaint village of Aberfan, Wales. A huge landslide had been triggered by the build-up of water and mining debris that had accumulated on top of Mynydd Merthyr. A tall ridge that loomed over the Aberfan village. With the recent downpour of rain, the debris triggered a massive landslide that slid downhill, devastating anything and everything in its path.

The tsunami of rock and shale broke through the busy classrooms at Pantglas Junior School. Within seconds, 116 children and 28 adults were crushed and buried within several feet of the black, wet, and lethal slurry.

Aberfan-schoolThe pupils of Pantglas Junior School had arrived only minutes earlier for the last day before the half-term holiday. They had just left the assembly hall, where they had been singing “All Things Bright and Beautiful“, when a great noise was heard outside. Had they left the assembly for their classrooms a few minutes later the loss of life would have been significantly reduced, as they would not have reached their classrooms when the landslide hit: the classrooms were on the side of the building nearest the landslide.

Nobody in the village was able to see it, but everyone could hear the roar of the approaching landslide. Some at the school thought it was a jet about to crash and one teacher ordered his class to hide under their desks. Gaynor Minett, then an eight-year-old at the school, later recalled:

It was a tremendous rumbling sound and all the school went dead. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone just froze in their seats. I just managed to get up and I reached the end of my desk when the sound got louder and nearer, until I could see the black out of the window. I can’t remember any more but I woke up to find that a horrible nightmare had just begun in front of my eyes.[5]

After the landslide there was total silence. George Williams, who was trapped in the wreckage, remembered:

“In that silence you couldn’t hear a bird or a child.” –source: Wikipedia


Psychiatrist Dr. John Barker lived near Aberfan and was compelled to write “Premonitions of the Aberfan Disaster.” Dr. John had collected over 76 letters, months after the disaster, from people who had a strange premonition in the days leading to the landslide. Out of the 76 letters he received from the local people of Aberfan and from around Europe, 24 of them were from people who had told others of their premonitions.

The fact that there were witnesses who could have corroborated the so-called premonitions was enough to convince Dr. John to investigate the matter further. Many of the letters involved dream, or nightmares, of the disaster. One person had erylreported that they saw the word ABERFAN spelled out in their dream. Others would dream of thick, billowing smoke around children. The letters were strange and detailed. But no report stood out more than that of 10 year old Eryl Mai Jones.

Eryl Mai was a schoolgirl who attended the doomed Pantglas School. A day before the disaster, she confessed to her mother about the strange dream she had. In her dream, the classroom had been demolished or was absent. Only to be replaced by something “black”. According to Eryl’s parents, the child was convinced that something bad was going to happen to her and her friends in the near future.

The following day, Friday, October 21st, Eryl Mai and 115 of her schoolmates perished under tons of rock and dirt.

Premonition has been debated since the beginning of time. Most will scoff at the thought that we can see into the future, while others believe that the human mind could posses such an ability as premonition. They call it a sixth sense. Could the premonitions of the Aberfan Disaster be nothing more than a sheer coincidence?

Who’s to say that the village had already been warned about the metric tons of loose soil that loomed over Aberfan. It could have weighed heavily on their minds, directly influencing the dreams of many on that stormy night. Or maybe with such an large scale disaster, most people somehow were able to tap into the collective subconscious of those who would perish being swallowed up by something black .