Latest: A teenager who witnessed a crush outside a St Patrick's Day disco has said it was the most frightening moment of her life, after three people were confirmed to have died.
Cheerleader Lauren Bullock, 17, keen sportsman Connor Currie, 16, and Morgan Barnard, 17, from Dungannon in Co Tyrone, died.
Police said it appeared that people had fallen and then been fatally injured, but are still investigating the cause.
Several hundred people were trying to get into the venue, Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, after being dropped off by buses shortly before 9.30pm on Sunday.
One young person caught up in the incident said: "As I looked down I could see multiple bodies underneath me and as I looked up I could see multiple bodies on top of me.
Emergency services attended within minutes and attempted to resuscitate the victims.
Two were taken to hospital critically ill but died later. One died at the scene.
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service's medical director Dr Nigel Ruddell said: "Everything points towards it being a tragic accident."
People struggled to get off the ground and there was confusion, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "It is a truly awful incident, heart-wrenching for everybody, particularly the families.
"Everybody did their best for them last night but it is a truly appalling incident.
"Unfortunately three are dead. The last person died this morning, unfortunately, with his parents near him."
Mr Hamilton said preliminary investigations showed there was a crush towards the front door of the hotel, and in that crush people seem to have fallen.
Security camera footage is being examined and police have appealed for videos captured by those present.
Lauren was a "beautiful soul" who was the backbone of her cheerleading team, a social media post said.
Her cheerleading team added: "My heart is broken writing this. You were the most down to earth, beautiful soul and our Coral team will never be the same without you."
She was a pupil at St Patrick's College in Dungannon. Principal Catherine McHugh described her as a "shining light".
"She was a leader among her peers and a quiet, strong and loyal presence. A treasured friend and capable young lady with a bright future."
Edendork Gaelic Athletic Association football club said it was devastated to hear of the death of "much loved and highly thought of" player and member Connor.
It said: "Connor will forever be remembered with the greatest affection by all associated with our club and indeed the wider Edendork community."
A relative of Morgan said he was a keen soccer player.
He added: "He was just a bundle of joy, always bouncing around, he seemed to have a lot of energy in him - a gentleman, he was.
"I am gutted. I just could not take it in, I tried to sleep and I could not sleep."
The hotel can take up to 500 people and attracts people from across the country.
Owner Michael McElhatton gave CPR to the victims.
He was clearly emotional as he said: "We are all deeply shocked and saddened by the traumatic events of last night.
"We offer our heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of the three young people who have lost their lives."
A 16-year-old girl is in a stable condition in hospital, while another two teenagers were treated for injuries.
Six emergency ambulances and two rapid response vehicles responded shortly after 9pm on Sunday. Four emergency doctors were deployed along with ambulance officers.
Update 4.43pm: A teenager who died following reports of a crush outside a St Patrick's Day disco was a "beautiful soul", her cheerleading group has said.
Lauren Bullock, 17, was the "backbone" of the team, Euphoria Allstar Cheerleading NI said.
Two boys aged 16 and 17 also died outside the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, on Sunday evening.
The cheerleading team said: "Euphoria are absolutely devastated to say we lost one of our senior athletes, Lauren Bullock, in the tragedy in Cookstown last night.
"My heart is broken writing this. You were the most down to earth, beautiful soul and our Coral team will never be the same without you.
"You were an incredible cheerleader and were the backbone of our team."
Several hundred people were trying to get into the venue after being dropped off by buses.
A 17-year-old girl and two boys aged 16 and 17 died, one at the scene and two later in hospital, police confirmed.
A 16-year-old girl is in a stable condition in hospital, while a further two teenagers were treated for injuries they suffered during the incident.
People struggled to get off the ground and there was confusion in the immediate aftermath between 9pm and 10pm on Sunday, the PSNI added.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: "It is a truly awful incident, heart-wrenching for everybody, particularly the families."
Efforts to resuscitate were made by emergency crews at the scene.
The senior officer added: "Everybody did their best for them last night but it is a truly appalling incident."
One of the deceased died at Antrim Area Hospital, the other at Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh.
The nightlife venue in Mid Ulster can take up to 500 people.
Mr Hamilton said preliminary investigations show there was a crush towards the front door of the hotel, and in that crush people seem to have fallen.
Security camera footage is being examined and police have appealed for videos captured by those present.
The senior officer added: "We are examining now to see if the people who have fallen are those who are deceased.
"There seemed to be a little bit of struggling going on to get people up off the ground and that might explain also why there was a report of some fighting."
A social media user said she fell while in the crowd, recalling a "traumatic and stressful" experience.
She saw paramedics trying to resuscitate a young boy.
Six emergency ambulances and two rapid response vehicles responded shortly after 9pm on Sunday.
Four emergency doctors were deployed along with ambulance officers.
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service medical director Dr Nigel Ruddell said everything pointed towards it being a tragic accident.
He said initial reports were confused.
A major incident was called.
Police made a direct appeal for people with footage of the incident to hand it to police, rather than post it on social media.
Mr Hamilton added: "We are of an open mind... it looks like a crowd of young people, a large crowd, pushing up against the front of the hotel to get in to this event.
"People then seem to have fallen and then got crushed. I would urge you to use that with some caution.
"We are continuing to interview people who were there to establish the full facts and I would appeal to anyone who witnessed what happened to contact police on 101 ext 52014.
"We need parents to talk to their children this morning and encourage them to come and tell us what happened. Please do not post photographs or videos online. Please share them with the PSNI."
He added: "We need people to come forward and tell us what happened last night. Three young people are dead, they deserve a full inquiry. Their parents need to know what happened to them."
Police posted on Twitter shortly after the incident, urging parents to pick up their children from the venue in Drum Road.
Update 12.35pm: Cookstown has been left reeling by the St Patrick’s Day tragedy, local representatives said.
A planned evening of fun at a disco turned into disaster as three young people died while awaiting entry to the Greenvale Hotel.
SDLP Stormont Assembly member Patsy McGlone said the community was shocked.
“People are feeling at a low ebb this morning, it is a huge loss to the community.
“Youngsters going out for a night at the disco on St Patrick’s night. Their families think they are safe and then the news turns differently.
“Out and about this morning, I have been speaking to a lot of people, their hearts feel for the families of the youngsters.”
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said she was “deeply sorry”.
“They were joining others in what should have been an evening for celebration.
“My thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this extremely difficult time.”
Sinn Féin president Mary-Lou McDonald said she could not fathom the horror that the parents of these children were going through.
“What should have been a night of fun and celebration for young people has turned into a night of tragedy,” she said.
The party’s deputy president Michelle O’Neill said there was deep shock.
“What is supposed to be a day of celebration has ended in heartbreak and sadness for those involved.”
Ulster Unionist councillor Trevor Wilson said the tragedy was hard to take.
“I spent most of the night at the scene and can say that the emergency services did everything they could to help those who were in distress,” he said.
“Young people and their parents have been traumatised and will need a lot of support in the coming days.
“The Cookstown community is in a state of shock at what has happened but I know that they will rally round to provide whatever support they can.”
- Press Association
Update 7.27am: A third teenage casualty has died following the crush at a St Patrick’s Day party at a hotel in Cookstown, police have said.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton confirmed two 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old died.
Speaking from the scene, he said: “Our preliminary investigations show there was a crush towards the front door of this hotel.
“There looks like there was a large crowd of young people pushing up against the hotel.”
He made a direct appeal for people with footage of the incident to hand it to police, rather than post it on social media.
Three people have now died as a result of incident at Greenvale Hotel, Cookstown last night, 17 March. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, in Cookstown this morning, says a major investigation is now underway however preliminary information suggests a crush took place. pic.twitter.com/dr0EKXToKN— PSNI (@PoliceServiceNI) March 18, 2019
Dr Nigel Ruddell, medical director of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, described the events as a “tragic accident”.
He said six emergency ambulances, four emergency response doctors and four emergency officers attended the scene after receiving the emergency call at 9.26pm. He said crews declared a major incident upon arrival.
“At this stage everything points toward it being a tragic accident and our hearts absolutely go out to the families of those involved and everybody who was caught up in this incident last night,” he said.
Asked about reports of fighting, Mr Ruddell told the BBC there were no injuries to suggest violent altercations.
He said one of those who died was declared dead at the scene, with the other two transported to hospital in critical condition. As well as the girl who was in a stable condition in hospital this morning, Dr Ruddell said one other person was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
“It was clearly a very distressing scene for all of those who were caught up in the midst of it,” he added. “I would have to say a great thank you to our crews who managed this in a very professional capacity.”
Mid Ulster Assembly member Patsy McGlone said the local community has been left devastated.
He reiterated the police request that phone video footage on the incident is passed to officers, and not shared online.
“This is truly every family’s worst nightmare,” said the SDLP representative.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the deceased and their loved ones at this devastating time.”
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said: “I am deeply sorry to hear that three young people tragically lost their lives at a hotel in Cookstown. They were joining others in what should have been an evening for celebration.
“My thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this extremely difficult time.
“I have spoken this morning to ACC Mark Hamilton, of the PSNI, who is leading the investigation alongside the Health and Safety Executive, and I asked to be kept updated.
“I want to thank the police, ambulance and fire services for all that they did last night in responding to this incident.”
Update 7.07am: Two people have died after a St Patrick’s Day party at a hotel in Cookstown, Co Tyrone.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said two other people were in hospital after the incident at the Greenvale Hotel, one in a critical condition and the other stable.
Many young people were believed to have been in attendance at the party.
While the circumstances of what happened are still under investigation, there were reports of a crush at the scene, police said.
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: “I can confirm there are two fatalities at this stage and a small number of other casualties.”
He added: “While the exact cause of the incident is still unknown, there are reports of a crush at the scene.”
Police posted on Twitter shortly after the incident, urging parents to pick up their children from the venue on Drum Road.
Emma Heatherington, whose two sons, aged 17 and 18, had been at the event, said she “felt sick” when she saw the police appeal.
A multi agency incident is under way at Greenvale Hotel, Cookstown. ACC Mark Hamilton said: “I can confirm there are 2 fatalities at this stage and a small no of other casualties. Parents are asked to collect children from Family and Friends reception at Glenavon Hotel.”— PSNI (@PoliceServiceNI) March 18, 2019
“My two boys were there so I rang them, shaking, and thankfully got them both,” she said. “They were on their way home at that stage.
“They say there was a huge crowd waiting to get into the venue and then a lot of commotion up near the front of the queue, then they said the emergency services arrived and they were all asked to leave.
“They came home very, very shaken with rumours that some people had died.”
The 42-year-old, of Donaghmore, Co Tyrone, added: “While it’s not clear exactly what happened, it’s the most tragic ending imaginable to what was supposed to be a celebration of St Patrick’s Day.”
A member of staff at the nearby Glenavon Hotel said he had heard the sirens as emergency services rushed to the scene, and said police had come to borrow their defibrillator.
“There were ambulances passing our entrance,” he said. “It’s scary, and you just hoped everyone was OK.
“It’s very sad to hear what happened.”
Brendan Marshall, a local photographer, said the Greenvale Hotel was well known for teenage discos.
“(They have them) on special occasions such as St Patrick’s Day or around Christmas time,” he added.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said it had received several calls from about 9.30pm on Sunday and sent two rapid-response paramedics, two doctors and five emergency crews to the scene.
Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said: “We are devastated to hear of the confirmed PSNI report of at least two deaths this evening at the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown. This is shocking and tragic news and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased.”
Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster tweeted that her “thoughts and prayers” were “with everyone impacted by this tonight”.
And Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill called it a “parents’ worst nightmare”.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the families,” she added.
Former Democratic Unionist MP for South Antrim, William McCrea, said: “We’ve got to see what lessons can be learned from this tragedy.
“I drove past this 10 minutes before it happened, not knowing that 10 minutes later an absolute tragedy would happen.
“The people that I’ve spoken to, they’re very shocked. It’s a close-knit community.”
- Press Association