THE TÁNAISTE HAS expressed his sympathy to the families of the two Irish students who died in this morning’s fire at a college residence in Belgium.
Twenty-two-year-old Dace Zarina from Longford and 19-year-old Sara Gibadlo from Oranmore, Galway perished in the blaze.
In a statement, Eamon Gilmore said:
I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of Dace Zarina and Sara Gibadlo, who lost their lives this morning in Leuven.
My thoughts are also with their fellow students at the Institute for Ireland, who have been through a terrible ordeal.
I would also like to note the bravery of the residents and fire department of Leuven who risked their own lives to help students escape the fire.
Both victims were second year students of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, studying Hotel and Catering Management. They had just recently started a 30-week Erasmus work placement in the Irish college in Leuven as part of their course.
GMIT Students’ Union said it was “devastated” by the tragic deaths.
President Sam O’Neill said, “We are all very shocked with the news that broke today about Sara and Dace. On behalf of all GMIT students, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the families & friends of the two girls.
They were very popular students, not only among their classmates, but throughout the whole college here in GMIT. It’s a tragic loss of two bright young students who had great futures ahead of them.
Ireland’s Ambassador to Belgium, Eamonn MacAodha has visited the hospital where the other students who escaped the fire are being treated.
The Department of Foreign Affairs says it is working with the Polish and Latvian embassies in Dublin and Brussels to help in any way it can. Dace Zarina’s family originally came from Latvia, while Sara Gibadlo originated from Poland.