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Donegal explosion: ‘Entire nation mourning’ as tributes paid to 10 victims of petrol station blast | World News


Mr. Taoiseach Michael Martin, from Ireland, said the country is mourning 10 victims killed in a terrible explosion at a gas station.

Explosion at a service station in Creeslough, Co Donegal, on Friday, claimed the lives of four men, three women, two teenagers – a boy and a girl – and an elementary school-age girl.

Teenage rugby player Leona Harper has been named among the dead.

Letterkenny Rugby Club paid tribute to the “talented rugby player” and “an important part of our U14 women’s team” in a post on their Facebook page.

The club said: “We are heartbroken to say that our worst fears have been confirmed … with Leona’s parents Hugh and Donna, her brothers Anthony and Jamie, and all of her teammates, we extend our deepest condolences and support.”

“No words are strong enough at a time of profound suffering like this.

“Rest in peace, Leona.”

Jessica Gallagher, who is understood to be in her 20s; store employee Martina Martin; Catherine O’Donnell and her son James; and Hughie Kelly, all named locally among those killed in the blast.

Four other people, including an elementary school-age girl, were also killed.

Eight people injured in the explosion remained in hospital on Saturday.

Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin also pledged his support to help the community through "major trauma".
Picture:
Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin pledges support to help communities through ‘tremendous trauma’

The explosion is being treated by Irish police as a “tragic accident”.

Mr. Martin visited the site and spoke with members of the emergency services, who have been working for 24 hours to locate the victims after the explosion. The lengthy search and recovery operation ended Saturday afternoon.

He said there was “deep sadness” in the village and a “terrible silence” that reflected the enormity of what had happened.

“The entire nation mourns and is deeply saddened.

“A child in the store and two teenagers, as well as men and women, who are also going about their lives.

“It’s a very engaged community and our hearts go out to them.”

Photo: North West Newspaperix
Picture:
Photo: North West Newspaperix

Taoiseach added: “Talking to those on the front lines and everyone involved, they were touched by the extraordinary support they received from the community here almost immediately.

“Many volunteers rushed to the scene to try and do everything they could to help because it was a horrible sight they were in and we have to keep our emergency services in mind at all times.

“I want to thank them for helping the trapped and injured. We have to do everything we can to support the community.

“Words on their own will not comfort someone who has lost a loved one and we have to be with them. We will be with them for quite some time.”

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The explosion in Donegal was a ‘bizarre accident’

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald, leader of Ireland’s main opposition party, also visited Creeslough on Saturday night, as did the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Tanaiste Leo Varadkar.

Disaster-affected communities grapple with ‘tsunami’


David Blevins - Senior Irish Correspondent

David Blevins

Senior Irish reporter

@skydavidblevins

It would be difficult to overstate the feeling of shock in Creeslough.

This small, picturesque village in County Donegal is trying to understand a huge tragedy.

There was a strange silence, everyone numbed by what had happened here.

The parish priest, Father John Joe Duffy, told me he was dealing with “a tsunami of grief”.

He provided pastoral support to the bereaved and those still waiting for news.

The gas station is a community hub and will be packed at the time of the explosion.

Locals are digging through the rubble in an attempt to rescue those trapped when help arrives.

Fire and ambulance services from Northern Ireland crossed the border to support their colleagues.

People arrived with hot food for emergency crews who were carefully searching for debris.

A local politician said: “We are seeing the best of this community as it faces its worst day.”

Political leaders then joined emergency services members and local residents to serve the victims at a nearby church.

Pastor John Joe Duffy told Mass: “Our hearts are really broken, we are all numb, not believing that we are really going through this tragedy, that it is real.

“The grief we see in young and old shows this is a family that cares for each other, a genuine community.

“We have lost, we all feel the pain.

“The coming days are going to be difficult days. I wish there was an easier way, but unfortunately there isn’t.

“However, the strength of the community will carry us.”

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