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At least three people have died in Donegal service station explosion as rescue efforts continue

Several people are understood to be trapped under the rubble.

Emergency services are at the scene of an explosion at a service station in Creeslough, Co Donegal.
Emergency services are at the scene of an explosion at a service station in Creeslough, Co Donegal.
Image: Joe Dunne

Updated Oct 7th 2022, 11:35 PM

THREE PEOPLE HAVE been confirmed dead following a major explosion at a service station in Donegal. 

The incident happened at the Applegreen service station in the Creeslough area shortly after 3.15pm this afternoon.

Gardaí have tonight confirmed three fatalities but a rescue operation continues at the site as there are more people still trapped inside. 

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

“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. 

“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.”

Multiple people continue to be treated at a nearby hospital but Letterkenny University Hospital has now stood down its Major Emergency Standby protocol which had been implemented earlier in the day. 

Their latest statement reads: “The hospital continues to treat those injured in the incident at Creeslough, Co Donegal and remains on hand to provide all necessary medical assistance required.

“We continue to appeal to the public not to come to the Emergency Department unless it is an emergency. Please contact your GP or out of hours service in the first instance. NowDoc has increased staffing tonight to help deal with any additional demands.”

Several people are understood to be trapped under the rubble. Emergency services are currently attempting to reach them. Search dogs are also being used to sniff out injured or unconscious people. It is understood that rescue teams have been able to make contact with a number of those inside the site. 

The Rescue 118 helicopter took at least one of the survivors who is in a critical condition to Dublin.

Among those gathered at the scene cordon were relatives of people feared to have been in the station at the time of the explosion.

Witnesses

Nina Gabel, 35, described distressing scenes at the cordon.

“There was one woman who didn’t know where her daughter was and she was very upset,” she told the PA news agency.

“There are emergency services everywhere, there were so many gardaí and fire engines.

“What looked like local farmers’ tractors were helping to dig out the rubble.”

Friends and families are going through a very difficult waiting period in Creeslough following the earlier explosion at a service station, Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh has said.

“We’re just waiting here, my sympathies and thoughts are with a lot of families here and their friends and loved ones, there is a very difficult waiting period now,” he told PA.

“People have pulled together and emergency services are there and doing their work, working carefully through this very very difficult time.

People are stunned, it’s very surreal, very difficult to put it into words. Just thinking of this very closely knit community that are still clinging on to hope, but they know that it’s going to be a difficult time ahead.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin this evening tweeted his support for the community. 

A tweet from the National Ambulance Service reads: “A number of ambulances are attending the scene of a serious incident at a service station in Creeslough, Co Donegal. Please avoid this area at the moment if possible.”

Locals are also doing what they can to support the rescue efforts. 

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said it is assisting fire crews from Donegal Fire Service at a “declared major incident” at the Applegreen service station in Cresslough, Co Donegal.

In a tweet it said: “NIFRS are currently supporting colleagues from Donegal Fire Service to a declared major incident at Applegreen filling station, Cresslough, Co Donegal.

“NIFRS have dispatched the specialist rescue team along with specialist officers.”

Local priest Father John Joe Duffy described difficult hours, and potentially difficult days ahead.

“We don’t know what the situation is, there is a search and rescue operation ongoing and the emergency services have been responding throughout the day,” he told the PA news agency.

Fr Duffy described local people as being the first responders at the scene of the incident at the heart of the local community immediately after the explosion.

Everyone is numb, devastated, it’s very much looking at the unknown at this time, and we’re just broken hearted, everyone is broken hearted, we’re lost for words.

“What I’m appealing for is for the prayers of the people across this county and across the country, to pray for us, to help us and to give us strength to get through these difficult hours and difficult days that may lay ahead.”

Creeslough is a village in the north-west of Donegal, around 12 kilometres from Dunfanaghy and 25km north of Letterkenny. As of the last census figures, it has a population of 393 people. 

vhvgcvg Emergency services are at the scene of an explosion at a service station in Creeslough, Co Donegal. Source: Joe Dunne

Sinn Féin TD for Donegal, Pearse Doherty said there is a sense of shock throughout the community. 

He told RTÉ radio earlier this evening: “At a quarter past three this afternoon, a massive explosion was heard from miles around. It is very sombre here. There are silent prayers being said, there are people still trapped within the development and the emergency services are doing everything they can to remove the rubble.

“This is a dark, dark cloud over the entire community of Creeslough.” 

He also added that people trapped inside the building have made contact with loved ones and emergency services. Efforts are continuing to free them this evening. 

Speaking this afternoon local councillor John O’Donnell said he was being inundated with calls from people wondering if family have been affected.

A statement from Applegreen reads: “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. The thoughts and prayers of everyone here at Applegreen are with all of those who have been affected.”

With reporting by Eoghan Dalton, Niall O’Connor and Press Association

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