Sam Knight was the first journalist to reach the scene of the Aberfan disaster on the morning of 21 October 1966 in which 144 people died. He later attended the Tribunal of Enquiry, during which 136 witnesses were called and 2.5 million words spoken. Thirty years on saw another flood of information as classified Government Papers were released. Fifty years on, the question becomes even more pertinent.
As a young journalist, I had travelled up from Cardiff early that morning to interview John Beale, Merthyr’s Director of Education. Later that day I would see him crying as he tried to read out the names of children. Leaving the town hall, I met my colleague Mel Parry, an eighteen-year-old photographer, who told me some school outbuildings had collapsed in Aberfan. We arrived at 09.35 hours, twenty minutes after a waste tip had demolished most of the school. I took off my tie and fearfully joined the hundreds frantically seeking to save the children.Sign in to read more