At least nine people have been killed in an explosion at a petrol station in Ireland
At least nine people were killed in a petrol station explosion in a village in north-west Ireland where a search was being carried out on Saturday for possible victims.
The number of dead had risen from seven to nine, the police said at noon. “The search for more victims continues,” she added. Eight people were hospitalized.
However, the police gave no explanation as to the origin of this explosion, which occurred in the village of Creeslough on Friday afternoon.
An aerial view taken after the explosion shows the destroyed gas station building. Two two-story apartment buildings behind it collapsed.
Local resident Kieran Gallagher, whose home is about 150 meters 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,” he told the BBC.
The community has been hit by “a tsunami of grief,” said Father John Joe Duffy during a mass at the village church on Saturday morning.
The emergency services, accompanied by sniffer dogs to find victims, were on duty throughout the night. The debris was further collected on Saturday morning.
Police, fire brigade, ambulance and the Irish coastguard were on site. They were assisted on Saturday by the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance Service as well as a team of specialists from the British province.
Letterkenny University Hospital, 15 miles from the gas station, was placed in an emergency situation and said in a statement it was treating “multiple injuries”.
– damage and debris –
In a statement, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said his “thoughts and prayers (are) today with those who lost their lives and were injured in this devastating blast”.
Michael Martin announced that he would go there. “It’s such a small village that almost everyone knows someone who has lost their life,” he told reporters Saturday morning. “It’s a very dark day for Donegal (the county where Creeslough is located) and for Ireland.”
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, an elected Member of Parliament from the blast-hit region, compared the scenes of the devastation to those of the Northern Ireland conflict in the second half of the 20th century.
“The scenes of the event are reminiscent of images from the +Troubles+ years ago, in terms of damage and debris.”
For three decades, the conflict in Northern Ireland pitted itself against nationalists, mainly Catholics, who favored the reunification of the island of Ireland, and loyalists, mainly Protestants, who clung to keeping the province under the British Crown. This conflict had claimed around 3,500 lives.
About fifty kilometers from the border with Northern Ireland, the village of Creelough has about 400 inhabitants.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the dead, those injured and the wider Creeslough community,” tweeted Applegreen, who owns the stricken gas station.
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