Taoiseach and President extend sympathies following deaths of seven people in Donegal explosion

Taoiseach and President extend sympathies following deaths of seven people in Donegal explosion

Seven people have been confirmed dead with more still unaccounted for after an explosion at a petrol station in Creelough, Co Donegal yesterday.

Three deaths were confirmed by gardaí on Friday while the four further deaths were confirmed early on Saturday.

Eight people are also being treated in hospital, Gardaí say.

The explosion occurred at an Applegreen service station in the small village with a population of about 400 shortly after 3pm. Adjacent buildings and apartments were also caught in the blast.

Search efforts for others feared missing continued late into Friday night.

The major emergency response operation, involving first responders from both sides of the Border, was expected to continue through the night.

Sniffer dogs were deployed to help find those who may be trapped beneath rubble.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin issued a statement this morning about the tragedy.

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

"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."

He also thanked the members of the emergency services on both sides of the border "who responded quickly to the scene, and who are working throughout the night in extremely traumatic circumstances."

President Michael D Higgins similarly expressed his shock at the incident.

"All of our thoughts must go out to all of those who have been affected," he said in a statement. "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.

"Special tribute must be paid to those members of the local community and emergency services across the island who have reacted so swiftly to the scene of the explosion and have continued to work through the night.

"All of our best thoughts and prayers go to those who have lost their lives and their families.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-anamacha.”

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.

The North’s air ambulance was also deployed, as were fire crews and ground ambulances.

Letterkenny hospital appealed to the public not to attend its Emergency Department unless it was urgent. However, this advice was later stood down.

Gardaí have confirmed that the operation is now a search and recovery operation.

A local hotel stopped taking bookings from members of the public to ensure all spare rooms were held for first responders.