Four coal miners are trapped in a colliery in Wales after a tunnel collapsed in a drift mine.

The four men are confined in a ventilation shaft 300 feet underground at the Gleision Colliery, near Cilybebyll, Pontardawe.

According to South Wales Police, three other men had escaped the colliery, with one in a hospital in nearby Swansea.
A drift mine is a mine that has been cut into the side of a hill where coal is mined horizontally.

Police and emergency services are engaged in what they're describing as a difficult rescue operation.

“A rescue operation is under way. As you can imagine, it is quite a dynamic situation,” said an official with South Wales Police
BBC reported that about fifty people (including up to 20 firefighters) are involved in the rescue operation.

The Mines Rescue Service said that no explosion or fire had been reported at the mine.

Councilor Arthur Threlfall, who serves on Cilybebyll Community Council, told BBC: The mine is in quite a remote spot. At the moment you can't go anywhere near it because a large area around it has been cordoned off by the police.

He added: Gleision is one of those collieries that has open and shut many times, and they tend to work on the basis of when coal is found. However, it has recently been extended. This is the first mining disaster I have known for many years. There are not many collieries left like there used to be.”

Neath MP Peter Hain stated: This is one of a number of small mines in the area. Obviously the families will be deeply worried.

One witness told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: We all dreaded that this might by another Chile mining collapse or even worse. The police and fire-people were up here straight away. These boys are very experienced miners and as hard as nails. But it must be terrifying to be cut off like this. As far as we are aware nobody has been seriously hurt although the boys must be shaken up by it. We've had so many pit tragedies in Wales over the years but we thought all those days we over.

Last year, Chilean miners were trapped underground for 69 days.

BBC stated that while most mines in south Wales are now closed; a few small-scale collieries are still active.

The Gleision Colliery has been in operation since 1993.

Wales was once synonymous with coal mining.

In 1874, Welsh mines produced 16.5-million tons of coal, of which about 25 percent was exported overseas. By 1913, Wales produced 57-million tons of coal. At its peak, in 1920, more than 270,000 pitmen worked in Welsh mines.