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At least three dead as search continues for people missing after horror Donegal explosion

Rescue efforts are now expected to continue into the night to try to save several people who are understood to still be trapped inside.

The scene of the devastation in Creeslough. NW Newspix

The scene of suspected explosion at a service station in the north Donegal village of Creeslough. (NW newspix)

The scene of the explosion at a service station in the north Donegal village of Creeslough. (NW newspix)

The scene of suspected explosion at a service station in the north Donegal village of Creeslough. (NW newspix)

The scene of an explosion in Donegal

Applegreen station in Creeslough. Photo: Googlemaps

The scene of the explosion at a service station in the north Donegal village of Creeslough.

The scene of the explosion in Creeslough, Co Donegal

The scene of suspected explosion at a service station in the north Donegal village of Creeslough. (NW newspix)© Brian McDaid

Emergency services at the scene in Creeslough tonight. Photo: Mark Condren

Eavan Murray, Stephen Maguire and Clodagh MeanyIndependent.ie

At least three people have died after an explosion at a petrol station in Co Donegal.

Gardai confirmed three fatalities after the incident at the Applegreen Service Station on the outskirts of the village of Creeslough just after 3pm today.

Specialist digging equipment is being used to sift through the rubble for missing people tonight after the petrol station and apartments were demolished by an explosion that was heard at least 5km away.

In a statement tonight, Gardai said: “An Garda Síochána continue to assist other Emergency Services at the scene of a serious ongoing incident that occurred at approximately 3:20pm on Friday, 7th October, 2022, at a premises on the N56 at Creeslough, County Donegal.

This emergency response has been led by the Donegal County Council Fire Service with assistance by An Garda Síochána, the National Ambulance Service, Irish Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Rescue 118 Helicopter, Irish Air Corps Medivac 112, Northern Ireland Ambulance HEMS, Irish Community Air Ambulance (Ground Crew), Northern Ireland Urban Search and Rescue, Meavagh Fire Service, Donegal Mountain Rescue, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service HART team (Hazardous Area Response Team) and the Donegal County Council Civil Defence.

At this time, An Garda Síochána can confirm there has been three fatalities as a result of this serious incident.

Emergency services at the scene in Creeslough tonight. Photo: Mark Condren

This continues to be an ongoing operation and An Garda Síochána are not in a position to provide further information on casualties at this time.”

They added: “An Garda Síochána continue to request that any road users intending to travel to the Creeslough area for any reason consider alternative routes as Emergency Services continue to deal with this ongoing incident.”

Meanwhile, rescue efforts continue to try save people who are understood to still be trapped inside.

Night lights were drafted in as an overnight search started following reports of a number of missing people, with fears of several fatalities.

One source said: “A lot of people are unaccounted for.”

It is understood that those working on the site and searching for survivors in the rubble are concerned about the safety of the building.

It is still not known the cause of the explosion which destroyed the Applegreen Service Station.

The scene of suspected explosion at a service station in the north Donegal village of Creeslough. (NW newspix)

From pictures taken just moments after the blast there was no fire at the scene.

Letterkenny University Hospital moved to Major Emergency Standby as they dealt with casualties.

Earlier, Independent Cllr. John O’Donnell, who is on the scene, told the Sunday World that a number of people were seriously injured following the explosion.

RTE reported that up to 30 people may have been injured in the blast. The building consists of a petrol station, busy shop, deli and post office. It’s understood the area was extremely busy at the time.

One local man who lives just a kilometre from the scene said he was thrown from his seat as he worked at his desk.

"I couldn't believe the power of it and I didn't know what had happened. We drove into town and it was just carnage,” he said.

"There was no ambulances or Gardaí at the scene at that stage because it had literally just happened."

"I saw one person on the ground."

"Miraculously we saw another man in the upstairs apartment and he actually wasn't injured at all and he came down on a ladder."

Rescue efforts are now expected to continue into the night to try to save several people who are understood to still be trapped inside.

A number of apartments and businesses have also been severely damaged in the explosion.

The scene of suspected explosion at a service station in the north Donegal village of Creeslough. (NW newspix)© Brian McDaid

Eye witnesses said people rushed to the scene.

The service station and adjoining post office is run by the local Lafferty family, a well-known and respected family from the area.

The complex, which sits at the entrance to the village coming from the Termon direction, houses a number of other small businesses including a hairdressing salon.

The complex also contains several apartments above the service station's shop which house a number of young families.

Large parts of the facade of the upstairs apartment complex were ripped off during the explosion, and the roof has collapsed, along with the roof of the service station, while several cars were damaged.

Inside the apartments passers-by could see beds and pictures hanging from walls.

Local TD Joe McHugh, who is at the scene this evening, said locals are “trying to do their best. It’s a horrible waiting game”.

Sinn Fein Deputy Leader and Donegal TD Pearse Doherty has said there is a “very very dark cloud” over the area in the wake of the tragedy.

He said a major rescue operation was underway and that people trapped within the building behind the petrol station had been making contact with those on the outside.

“Everybody is just holding on and hoping they can make contact with their loved ones inside the building. Emergency services are working tirelessly to get them out. Locals were helping, trying to free them, but now the building is cordoned off and emergency services are working,” he added.

Applegreen station in Creeslough. Photo: Googlemaps

In a statement, Applegreen said: “Applegreen is aware of a serious incident at its dealer-operated location at Creeslough in Co Donegal. Emergency services are on the scene and are dealing with the incident.”

A Major Emergency Plan was sparked at Letterkenny University Hospital as a result of the explosion.

A spokesperson for the hospital said "Letterkenny University Hospital is dealing with a serious incident, with multiple injured people requiring immediate attention.

"The hospital has moved to Major Emergency Standby as it deals with this incident.

"We are appealing to the public not to come to the Emergency Department unless it is an emergency. Please contact your GP or NOW doc service in the first instance.

"NowDoc has increased staffing this evening to help deal with any additional demands."

The scene of the explosion at a service station in the north Donegal village of Creeslough.

A worker in the Coffee Pod, a café located just across the road from the petrol station, said they heard "a very loud explosion" but had no idea what had occurred until they "saw the state" of the petrol station. Their premises was not damaged in the explosion and the worker said that there were numerous emergency vehicles at the scene.

Another local woman said: "It's just awful. We don't really know what happened because we're down at the opposite end of the town, but it doesn't look good.

"The whole is town is closed up, all the roads are blocked and there's nobody going nowhere. There's nowhere to go,” she added.

Speaking on RTÉ Drivetime, local Independent Councillor John O’Donnell said: “Everybody's just very shocked and traumatised.

“You can see people that I was at the scene there working, they’re working their way back out so … you know by the expressions on their face, that it’s not a sight for good eyes.

“They're just trying to make the building safe, so it won’t collapse any further. So, it’s hard to believe in a small rural village, so close to home for ourselves as well, and certainly, it'll take a long time for the are to recover – if it ever recovers from it.”


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