TRAGEDY struck a Welsh mining community as all four of the miners trapped underground in a flooded pit were found to have perished.
Families of the victims, gathered in a nearby community centre, were left devastated as their hopes of receiving good news were dashed, after rescue crews found one body after another.
A full investigation into Thursday morning's accident at Gleision Colliery, near Swansea, was promised by the Welsh Secretary as the community struggled to come to terms with the loss of life.
Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "a desperately, desperately sad situation". Neath MP Peter Hain said the deaths of the four miners was a "stab through the heart" of the tight-knit community, and he paid tribute to the "super-human efforts" of rescue workers.
The four men - Phillip Hill, Charles Breslin, David Powell and Garry Jenkins - were trapped when the mine flooded. Three others suffered injuries but managed to escape.
Early yesterday morning, police announced the tragic news that rescuers had located the body of one of the group.
At 1:30pm, it was revealed a second body had been found, followed shortly after 3pm by the grim news that a third man had been discovered dead.
Finally, at just after 6pm, the last flicker of hope was extinguished when rescuers delivered the crushing news that a fourth body had been found, leaving the families bereft. The bodies have yet to be formally identified. Ambulances were seen approaching the entrance to the mine during the day.
One of those trapped was the father of one of the three miners who managed to escape from the drift mine when it flooded.
It had previously been hoped the four might have found refuge in an underground air pocket, giving them enough oxygen to survive until rescue workers could reach them.
But without any means of communicating with the men, it was impossible to tell what injuries they might have sustained when slurry-filled flood water engulfed the drift mine.
Families of those underground waited for news in the nearby community centre in Rhos, but when the news came it was not good.
South Wales chief constable Peter Vaughan said the conclusion of the rescue was "the one that none of us wanted".
Chris Margetts, from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said water and oxygen levels in the mine had been good and that they had used seismic listening devices in their attempts to find the miners.