CREESLOUGH, Ireland – A 50-year-old Zimbabwean man and his daughter, 5, are among 10 people killed on Friday in an explosion at a petrol station in the Irish county of Donegal.
The explosion happened shortly after 3PM local time at the Applegreen petrol station on the outskirts of the village of Creeslough.
Eight people are being treated in hospital, including one with critical injuries who was airlifted to Dublin.
On Sunday, police released the names of the 10 victims, among them Robert Garwe and his daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe.
Shauna and her father had popped into the petrol station shop to buy a birthday cake for her mum.
Catherine O Donnell, 39, and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan were also among the dead. Police said the other six victims were James O Flaherty, 48, Jessica Gallagher, 24, Martin McGill, 49, Hugh Kelly, 59, Martina Martin, 49, and 14-year-old Leona Harper.
“We have to keep an open mind as a police service in how we investigate this but our information at this point in time is pointing towards a tragic accident,” Superintendent David Kelly told a news conference.
Photographs from the scene showed a two-storey apartment block above the petrol station’s store with walls blown out and a partially collapsed roof, and debris scattered across the forecourt where several cars were parked.
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said the incident was an unspeakable tragedy for a small community of just a few hundred people.
“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,” Martin said in a statement late on Friday.
“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.”
Local Sinn Fein lawmaker Pearse Doherty said at the scene on Friday that the “massive explosion” was heard from miles around. As the only supermarket in the village, and home to a post office and hairdressers, he said the station would have been very busy just at the end of the school day.
Bernard Doherty, who lives nearby and knew all but one of the victims, told national broadcaster RTE that he and others began clearing rubble with tractors and trailers before the Irish Coast Guard and a specialist rescue team from nearby Northern Ireland joined emergency services at the scene.
“Rubble had been blown across the forecourt as far as the road. There was everything from tin to blocks, floor slabs, contents from the shop just lying around the place,” he said, adding that one person was pulled out alive.
“About 20 seconds after landing on the scene, we knew what was ahead.”