Child among dead after explosion at petrol station in northwest Ireland
At least ten people have been killed following an explosion at a petrol station in northwest Ireland. Four men, three women, a teenage boy and girl and a young child were killed, according to Gardaí (Irish Police). The explosion happened on Friday afternoon at 15h20 on 7 October 2022, in County Donegal at a petrol station in the village of Creeslough. The explosion, gutted the petrol station and devastated adjacent apartments, some of which collapsed, blanketing the forecourt in rubble and glass. The site includes a shop, deli counter and post office. Irish Police, Fire, Ambulance and Coastguard Services, Northern Ireland Air Ambulance Service and a team of specialists from the British province worked through the night. Emergency services remained on site into Saturday, using rescue dogs to look for more people.
Casualty figures were revised upwards throughout Saturday as emergency services searched for more victims. They do not expect to find anyone else, though police remained at the scene.
Ambulances and helicopters transported wounded people to a hospital at Letterkenny, 15 miles away and Dublin, 160 miles away. The coastguard set up a landing zone in the city’s Phoenix Park.
The explosion, heard several miles away, shattered the tranquillity of a rural village. Its only shop was at the service station, a communal hub said to be usually busy on Friday afternoons. Creeslough has a population of 400 people and is about 30 miles from the border with Northern Ireland.
Aerial images show the Applegreen service station destroyed, with a two-storey neighbouring apartment in ruins.
The Gardaí did not give an explanation for the cause of the explosion, which hospitalised eight people, one of whom is critically ill. Information so far pointed towards a tragic accident, they said.
Kieran Gallagher, who lives around 150 metres from the scene, said the blast made him think of a "bomb". "I was at home when I heard an explosion … it was like a bomb.”
Letterkenny University Hospital, 15 miles from the incident, was placed in an emergency situation and said in a statement it was dealing with a "serious incident" and treating "multiple injuries".
In a statement, Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Micheal Martin said his "thoughts and prayers [are] today with those who lost their lives and those who were injured in this devastating explosion". “Island residents will be struck with the same sense of shock and utter devastation as the people of Creeslough at this tragic loss of life,” he said, thanking emergency service members who worked "all night under extremely traumatic circumstances".
In a statement on Twitter, Applegreen company said the news was "devastating". "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the deceased, those who have been injured, and the wider Creeslough community," they tweeted. The company said that the supermarket and Applegreen outlet had been operated by local partners at "the heart of the community". "Like the rest of Ireland, tonight we stand in solidarity with that community".
The village of Creelough, some fifty kilometres from the border with Northern Ireland, has about 400 inhabitants.
The Irish president, Michael D Higgins, said, “All of our thoughts must go out to all of those who have been affected. Those who have received news of the loss of a loved one, those injured and, most of all, those who are waiting with anxiety for news of their loved ones.”
Sources: Euro News, The Guardian, BBC