The death toll from a petrol station explosion that shattered a small village in northwest Ireland rose to 10 and emergency workers who combed through piles of rubble said they did not expect to find more bodies.
Irish police said no one remained missing after Friday’s explosion in Creeslough, County Donegal. Police are investigating the cause of the blast, and Superintendent David Kelly said evidence “is pointing toward a tragic accident.”
Ireland’s police force, An Garda Siochana, said the explosion killed four men, three women, two teenagers and a girl of primary school age. Eight people were admitted to hospital – one in critical condition – after the blast destroyed the Applegreen service station in the community of about 400 people near Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coast.
Sniffer dogs combed the debris and a mechanical digger lifted piles of rubble from the site.
Photographs from the scene showed a residential unit above the petrol station’s store with walls blown out and a partially collapsed roof, and debris scattered across the forecourt where several cars were parked.
At one point on Friday night, all machinery was turned off and onlookers were asked to remain completely silent as rescue workers attempted to detect survivors beneath the debris.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the incident was a tragedy for a small community of just a few hundred people.
“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,” Martin said in a statement.
“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.”
My thoughts and prayers are tonight with the entire community of Creeslough following today’s devastating explosion.
Thinking too of all the emergency services, from across the north-west and NI working in very traumatic situation.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) October 7, 2022
Local Sinn Fein lawmaker Pearse Doherty said at the scene on Friday that the “massive explosion” was heard from miles around and hours later people were still trapped inside the building, with some making contact with the emergency services outside.
He said the petrol station was the only supermarket in the village. It also housed a post office and hairdressers and would have been very busy at that time, just at the end of the school day on a Friday, he added.
On Friday night, a coastguard helicopter airlifted some of those who were injured in the explosion from Letterkenny University Hospital to Dublin.
Neighbouring Northern Ireland’s air ambulance was also deployed as were fire crews and ground ambulances from the region.