Irish village ‘shocked and numb’ after petrol station explosion kills at least 10
The death toll from a petrol station explosion that destroyed a small village in north-west Ireland rose to 10 on Saturday, and rescuers combing through piles of rubble said they did not expect to find any other bodies.
Irish police said no one was missing after Friday’s blast in Creeslough, County Donegal. The police are investigating the cause of the explosion and the superintendent. David Kelly said the evidence « pointed to a tragic accident ».
Irish police, An Garda Siochana, said the mid-afternoon blast killed four men, three women, two teenagers and a girl of primary school age. Eight people have been hospitalized – including one in critical condition – after the explosion destroyed the Applegreen petrol station in the community of around 400 people near Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coast.
Emergency responders from Ireland and neighboring Northern Ireland joined in what police said on Saturday was now a « search and recovery » operation. Sniffer dogs combed through the debris and a mechanical shovel lifted piles of rubble from the site.
Building razed by explosion
The blast leveled the service station building, which houses the village’s main store and post office, damaged an adjacent building and shattered the windows of nearby cottages.
« There were blocks thrown about 100 yards from the scene, » local doctor Dr Paul Stewart told Irish broadcaster RTE. « The whole front of the building collapsed. And the roof on the first floor collapsed into the store. It’s a miracle they got someone out. »
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said it was one of the « darkest days for Donegal and the whole country ».
« The people of this island will be numb to the same sense of shock and utter devastation as the people of Creeslough at this tragic loss of life, » Martin said.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, who represents Donegal in the Irish parliament, said the service station was well known across the country due to its commanding position on the area’s main N56 road and was « the heart » of the local community.
« People are shocked and numb, » he told Irish broadcaster RTE. « People have come together and everyone is concerned about the families of those who have lost loved ones and how they can support them. »
Another local lawmaker, Pearse Doherty, said community members were in shock.
« [It’s] something no one ever thought could happen in a small village like this where everyone knows each other, » he said. « Yesterday at a quarter past three the children were leaving school, people were going to collect their social allowances. For such a nightmare to occur, it will take time to sink in. »