Donegal blast – Three confirmed dead as specialist workers paint scene of petrol station blast and residents are ‘numbed’

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WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR

A FRANTIC search for survivors has been described as a ‘waiting game’ after a devastating petrol station explosion in Donegal.

The horrific blast happened at Applegreen petrol station in Creeslough just after 3.15pm, shaking buildings and collapsing walls and ceilings.

Specialized digging equipment is used to search for missing people and night lights have been brought in to help with the arduous hunt.

A number of emergency vehicles, including firefighters and ambulances, rushed to the scene after the blast this afternoon.

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty said there were still people trapped inside the building and described the situation as a “worst nightmare”.

And the former education minister and Fine Gael MP said it was simply a ‘waiting game’ for spectators.”

Mr Doherty said people inside the building made contact with others outside.

He told RTE’s Six One News: “Everyone is hanging on hoping they can get in touch with their loved ones.”

The TD added: ‘It is very dark, there are silent prayers, there are still people trapped in the building and the emergency services are doing all they can to remove the rubble.’

The site houses a service station, a delicatessen counter, a post office, a shop and a hair salon.

He said: “At 3:15 p.m. a massive explosion could be heard for miles around and went through this building.”

Deputy McHugh, who lives near Carrigart, said what happened was simply surreal.

He said those at the scene were just numb.

He said: ‘I came as soon as I heard what happened because I obviously knew a lot of people in the area.

“I just wanted to be here with these people and offer them my support. We are thinking of them and all the people and relationships affected by this tragedy in this close-knit community.”

‘GAME OF PATIENCE’

He said: “There is a numbness here and people are just in shock. It’s a waiting game now.

Roads leading to the village have been cordoned off and a major contingency plan has been triggered at Letterkenny University Hospital

It is understood that a number of those injured were people and are now being treated in hospital.

A spokesperson for LUH said: “Letterkenny University Hospital is dealing with a serious incident, with several injuries requiring immediate attention.

HOSPITAL ADVOCACY

“The hospital has moved to Major Emergency Standby as it processes this incident.

“We urge the public not to go to the emergency department unless it is an emergency. Please contact your GP or NOW doc service first.

“NowDoc has increased its staff this evening to help meet any additional demands.”

The explosion caused a major collapse of the premises.

“SHOCKED AND TRAUMATIZED”

Several cars were damaged by falling debris.

The main part of the building which also contains apartments was badly damaged.

Independent local councilor John O’Donnell, who was at the scene, said people were shocked and traumatized by the blast.

He told RTE’s Drivetime: “Everyone is very shocked and traumatised. You can see people on the premises working there and you can see from the expression on their faces that it’s not a sight for good eyes up there.

“They are trying to make the building safe and prevent it from collapsing further.

“VERY DANGEROUS”

“It’s hard to believe, in a small rural village, so close to home.

“It will take a long time for the area to recover if it ever recovers.”

O’Donnell said the structure of the station is still “very, very dangerous”.

He said: “The roof is blown off, there are slabs hanging in the air, held together by a small piece of block.

“It’s very, very dangerous.

“It’s dangerous for anyone who is going to make a recovery. I would say they try to secure the stage before entering.

He added that there is additional fear due to the fact that the scene is a gas station, filled with flammable fuels.

Gardai, who witnessed the scene, asked road users to avoid the area.

CALL OF THE GARDA ROAD

A spokesperson for An Garda Siochana said: “Gardai are currently assisting other emergency services at the scene of a serious incident in Creeslough, County Donegal.

“An Garda Siochana asks all road users intending to travel to Creeslough to consider alternate routes.”

An Applegreen spokesperson said they were aware of the “serious incident” at the Creeslough station.

They added: ‘Emergency services are at the scene and are dealing with the incident.

They later said, “Everyone’s thoughts and prayers here at Applegreen are with everyone who has been affected.”

A local man who lives just a mile from the scene said he was thrown from his seat while working at his desk.

He said: “I couldn’t believe the power of it and I didn’t know what happened. We went into town and it was just carnage.

“There were no ambulances or Gardai on the scene at this stage because it had literally just happened.”

He added: “Miraculously we saw another man in the apartment above and he was not injured at all and he climbed down a ladder.

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