Ten people killed in Donegal blast named, ranging in age from 5 years old to 50
Emergency operation in Creeslough, County Donegal wound down on Saturday afternoon.
The death toll from the explosion at the Applegreen petrol station in Creeslough has been finalised at ten. Emergency services say everyone has now been accounted for. One person is critical in hospital, seven are said to be stable.
The 10 people killed in an explosion at an Irish petrol station have been named by police as:
James O’Flaherty, 48
Jessica Gallagher, 24
Martin McGill, 49
Catherine O’Donnell, 39, and her son James Monaghan, 13.
Hugh Kelly, 59
Robert Garwe, 50 and his daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe, 5
Martina Martin, 49
Leona Harper, 14
All of the 10 victims were from the wider Creeslough area.
A further seven people injured in the explosion are being treated in Letterkenny hospital.
A man in his 20s is said to be in a critical condition in St James’s Hospital in Dublin.
The search-and-recovery operation was wrapped up yesterday (Sat) afternoon.
Garda Superintendent Liam Geraghty told reporters that what has happened will have “a huge impact to a small rural community”.
He said: “They are all local people. They are all very much involved in the community. They were all people who were shopping in their local shop.
“We have very, very young children. The schools are going to be impacted, the GAA clubs are going to be impacted, the local church, in general the community is going to be severely impacted by this incident.
“But it is a very strong community as was seen here on Friday afternoon with the response of families, friends and neighbours who came to people’s rescue.
“So I am sure the community will come together and will support each other.”
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Taoiseach Micheál Martin, accompanied by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar Agriculture Minister and Donegal TD Charlie McConaloguemet survivors in hospital.
Addressing the congregation during Sunday mass at St Michael’s Church in Creeslough, Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian said: “At this time, you, the people of Creeslough, are living through a nightmare of shock and horror since the very heart of the community was deeply wounded on Friday afternoon.
“It’s an experience that we are living through together. But we recognise that the trauma is different for every single individual. We hold in our hearts most especially those for whom this is most acute.
“We think firstly of the 10 who have lost their lives and gone to God, and then of those nearest to them who are most cruelly bereaved.
“And then we think of the injured, struggling to recover in body and spirit. We think of everyone, both from the community and the first responders in the public services who have carried the burden of being close to the tragedy as it has unfolded.
“And we remember everyone here in Creeslough, and indeed throughout Ireland and further, who feels helpless and shaken by what has happened.”
He spoke about the randomness of what had happened and the upset caused by seeing what can happen in life.
“Over the last couple of days as people gathered in groups to talk about what has happened here these last days, the one word that stands out for me in relation to the explosion is something somebody said.
“It is so random, they said. And what she was referring to was, anybody could have been caught up in that. There’s something deeply shocking and upsetting about what life throws up, can throw up.
“We ask why did it have to happen here, to this person, that person, why did they have to be there at that awful moment?
“The bereaved and the injured have to carry the awful insecurity of that question. Others of us could easily carry a certain sense of guilt.
“Why was it them and not me who was hit by the randomness of this tragedy? There is fundamentally a terrible realisation that we are not masters of our own destiny.
“We are very fragile, all of us, fragile and vulnerable,” he said.
Ten red candles sat flickering at the front of the altar during the mass.
Police believe the blast that ripped through the Applegreen service station and convenience store and adjoining buildings was accidental.
The President of Ireland Michael D Higgins earlier expressed his shock at the “terrible tragedy”:
“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.
“This tragedy is a terrible blow to a community that is closely knit and where every loss and injury will be felt by every member of the community and far beyond.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said his thoughts and prayers were with the entire community of Creeslough.
“Thinking too of all the emergency services, from across the north-west and NI working in very traumatic situation,” he tweeted.
Local priest John Joe Duffy said the community was “numb and devastated”.
“It’s very much looking at the unknown at this time, and we’re just broken-hearted, everyone is broken-hearted, we’re lost for words,” Fr Duffy told the PA news agency.
“What I’m appealing for is for the prayers of the people across this county and across the country, to pray for us, to help us and to give us strength to get through these difficult hours and difficult days that may lay ahead.”
Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh said friends and families were going through a very difficult waiting period.
“We’re just waiting here, my sympathies and thoughts are with a lot of families here and their friends and loved ones, there is a very difficult waiting period now,” he told PA.
“People have pulled together and emergency services are there and doing their work, working carefully through this very, very difficult time.
“People are stunned, it’s very surreal, very difficult to put it into words. Just thinking of this very closely knit community that are still clinging on to hope, but they know that it’s going to be a difficult time ahead.”
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said that people were still trapped in the building on Friday evening as the emergency services worked to remove the rubble from the area.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, also a local TD, said he was thinking of all those affected by the “awful” incident.
He said: “Thinking of the emergency services personnel involved this evening too.”
Multiple emergency service vehicles remained at the scene on Friday night while a Coastguard helicopter airlifted some of those who were injured in the blast from Letterkenny University Hospital to Dublin.
Letterkenny hospital appealed to the public not to attend its emergency department unless it was urgent.
The hospital initiated its major emergency standby protocol earlier on Friday. It it down the protocol late on Friday night.
In a statement, the hospital said: “The hospital continues to treat those injured in the incident at Creeslough, Co Donegal and remains on hand to provide all necessary medical assistance required.”
Applegreen said in a statement that it was “aware of a serious incident at its dealer-operated location at Creeslough”.
“The thoughts and prayers of everyone here at Applegreen are with all of those who have been affected,” it stated.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar described the incident as “tragic”.
In a post on Twitter, Mr Varadkar wrote: “Terrible news from Donegal tonight.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected by the tragic events and with the emergency services responding.”
Nina Gabel, 35, described distressing scenes at the cordon on Friday evening.
“There was one woman who didn’t know where her daughter was and she was very upset,” she told PA.
“There are emergency services everywhere, there were so many gardai and fire engines.
“What looked like local farmers’ tractors were helping to dig out the rubble.”
Ambulances and fire crews from across the border in Northern Ireland were deployed to the area to assist with the emergency response.
A local hotel stopped taking bookings from members of the public to ensure all spare rooms were held for first responders.
Mr Doherty said it was after 3pm when the “devastating” and “massive” explosion took place that could be heard from miles around.
“This is something that’s your worst nightmare. This is a quiet village, a very close-knit village, this is the only shop in the town,” he told RTE news.
“It ripped right through this building, and this was a very busy location at that point in time.
“Three o’clock, it’s just after school, people were going to collect their pensions. This is a very, very, very busy locality here at this shop, this petrol station, this deli, the post office at this time.”
Mr Doherty said it had left “a very, very dark cloud” over the community.
He said: “There are silent prayers being said, there are people still trapped within the building and the emergency services are doing everything that they can to remove the rubble, and people are being airlifted away to our hospitals in the region.
“There’s just quiet, it’s surreal. People are just holding on for hope, holding on to hear news, positive news coming from the emergency services.”
Fianna Fail councillor Anthony Molloy told reporters he knows the family who owns the service station and the tragedy is “beyond words”.
“My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved,” Mr Molloy said.
“It looks horrific from what I can see from photographs. It looks terrible. It’s just terrible.
“I know the family. It’s beyond words.”
Local councillor Donal Mandy Kelly told PA the news was “devastating”.
He said: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved.”
A number of people are being treated in hospital following an explosion at a service station in the Creeslough area of County Donegal.
Local councillor Donal Mandy Kelly said it was “devastating news”.
He said: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved.”