THREE teenagers have died following a suspected stampede outside a St Patrick's Day disco at a hotel in Co. Tyrone.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has confirmed that a 16-year-old boy, a 17-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy lost their lives by the entrance of the Greenvale Hotel & Restaurant on Drum Road, Cookstown on Sunday night.
Three other teenagers were also taken to hospital after emergency services responded to the incident at around 9.30pm.
Police said they were called to reports of a "crush" at the front of the hotel involving a large group of young people waiting to enter a St Patrick's night party.
Police launch investigation following the deaths of 3 teens at St Patrick’s Day event in Cookstown. ACC Mark Hamilton said: "It is heart-breaking an event which should have been fun should end in such a terrible tragedy."https://t.co/uZ4sJF537H
— PSNI Mid Ulster (@PSNIMidUlster) 18 March 2019
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton confirmed three teenagers had tragically died, and said: "Our investigation is at an early stage, but there are reports of a crush at the scene and initial enquiries indicate that a large group of young people were waiting to enter a disco.
"It looks like there was a large crowd of young people pushing up against the hotel.
"We also have reports of some fighting after the incident commenced and at least one person has reported that they were assaulted."
Ast Ch Con Hamilton also made a direct appeal for anyone with footage of the incident to hand it to police, rather than post it on social media.
He added: "It is heartbreaking that an event which should have been fun for these youngsters on St Patrick's night should end in such a terrible tragedy."
— Connla Young (@ConnlaYoung) 18 March 2019
A source told Belfast Live: "A lot of people had congregated outside the Greenvale and there was a lot of carry on but suddenly all hell broke loose and there was a big panic. People were running all over the place."
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) confirmed they had responded to reports of a number of people having sustained serious injuries.
"NIAS despatched two Rapid Response Paramedics, two doctors and five emergency crews to the scene," a spokesperson said.
"Three patients have been taken, by ambulance, to Antrim Area Hospital for treatment for various injuries and another to Craigavon Area Hospital."
Earlier, the PSNI had declared a major incident and called on parents to contact their children at the disco and come to collect them immediately.
Several units of police, paramedics and firefighters attended the scene as well as environmental health staff.
Police have launched a full investigation into the incident.