Ten confirmed dead, including young girl and two teenagers, after Creeslough blast

Ten confirmed dead, including young girl and two teenagers, after Creeslough blast

Emergency services continue their work at the scene of an explosion at Applegreen service station in the village of Creeslough in Co Donegal, where nine people have now been confirmed dead.

Ten people are now dead following yesterday's explosion at a service station in Co Donegal, gardaí have confirmed.

In a press conference this afternoon, gardaí said that a young girl, two teenagers, four men and three women are among the deceased.

Several people were also injured in the blast.

Rescue crews worked through the night to search for people possibly buried under the rubble with fears of more fatalities.

The explosion occurred at the Applegreen Service Station on the outskirts of the village of Creeslough at 3.20pm.

It caused a major collapse at the service station and a block of apartments, which are part of the complex, were severely damaged.

As darkness fell, specialist digging equipment, lights and sniffer dogs were brought in to aid the operation, which has continued into this morning.

Emergency services working at the scene this morning. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Emergency services working at the scene this morning. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Rubble was being moved on to trailers and hauled from the scene.

Having announced three fatalities on Friday night Gardaí confirmed a further four deaths in a statement this morning.

“The search and recovery for further fatalities continues," a garda spokesperson said.

“Eight persons were transferred to hospital for medical attention yesterday.”

Gardaí did not provide any information about the suspected cause of the explosion.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: "My thoughts and prayers are today with those who have lost their lives, and those injured in the devastating explosion in Creeslough.

"I wish to express my deepest sympathies to their family, and friends, and to the entire community of Creeslough, on this darkest of days for Donegal and the entire country.

"People across this island will be numbed by the same sense of shock and utter devastation as the people of Creeslough at this tragic loss of life.

The scene of the devastation in Creeslough. (NW Newspix)
The scene of the devastation in Creeslough. (NW Newspix)

"I would like to thank all the members of the emergency services, from across the North-West and Northern Ireland, who responded so quickly to the scene, and who are working throughout the night in extremely traumatic circumstances."

Earlier, local Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said that people are still trapped inside the building, and they are contacting people on the outside as emergency services work to remove rubble and get them to safety. 

He said that that explosion, which ripped through the building, could be heard from miles around. 

“There are people trapped within the building and emergency services are doing everything they can to remove the rubble, and people are being airlifted to hospitals in the region, but this is a dark, dark cloud over the entire community of Creeslough and further away.

"Everybody is just holding on hoping they can make contact with their loved ones.

“There are people inside the building making contact with people on the outside,” he told RTE from the scene in Creeslough.

Mr Doherty said “the story emerging from Creeslough is a terrible one, it's a dark story today.” 

Former minister for education and Fine Gael Deputy Joe McHugh joined those at the scene.

As specialist recovery workers sift through the wreckage of the building, Mr McHugh said it was simply a "waiting game."

Mr McHugh said those who were at the scene "were just numb".

It is understood that those working on the site and searching for survivors in the rubble are concerned about the safety of the building.

Picture: Biran Lawless/PA
Picture: Biran Lawless/PA

A major emergency plan was initiated at Letterkenny University Hospital, where the injured are now being treated. 

A spokesperson for the hospital said "Letterkenny University Hospital is dealing with a serious incident, with multiple injured people requiring immediate attention.

"The hospital has moved to Major Emergency Standby as it deals with this incident." At 10pm the hospital announced it was stepping down its emergency protocols but advised members of the public not to attend the emergency department. 

"Please contact your GP or NowDoc service in the first instance. NowDoc has increased staffing this evening to help deal with any additional demands."

Staff in the hospital remain "on hand to provide all necessary medical assistance required," according to a statement issued tonight.

The Irish Coastguard assisted emergency services at the scene, and the Sligo-based Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue 118 and the Mulroy Coast Guard team are also assisting the operation. 

Roads into the village have been cordoned off and gardaí are asking drivers who are considering travelling to Creeslough to use alternative routes.

'There are no words'

Brendan O'Connor, President of the Garda Representative Associations (GRA) commended the work of al emergency services personnel and volunteers taking part in the operations.

I’ve never seen anything like the effort put in by the emergency services, north and south, those that dug with their bare hands those who drove machines and those who fed and watered us," he said. 

"We have lost so many members of this small community that there really are no words"

The Local parish priest Fr John Joe Duffy told Highland Radio: “There are absolutely no words, it’s just a tragedy beyond belief.

One local man who lives just a kilometre from the scene said he was thrown from his seat as he worked at his desk.

The Applegreen service station and surrounding buildings sustained extensive damage in the incident. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The Applegreen service station and surrounding buildings sustained extensive damage in the incident. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

“I couldn’t believe the power of it and I didn’t know what had happened. We drove into town and it was just carnage.”

A spokesperson for Applegreen has said: "Applegreen is aware of a serious incident at its dealer-operated location at Creeslough in Co Donegal.

"Emergency services are on the scene and are dealing with the incident." 

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