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Tuesday 30 May 2023 Dublin: 14°C
PA Emergency services continue their work at the scene of an explosion at Applegreen service station in the village of Creeslough
# creeslough
Creeslough explosion death toll rises to nine as search and recovery operation continues
The explosion occurred in the Creeslough area of Donegal at around 3.15pm yesterday.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 8th 2022, 12:00 PM

This article was last updated at 1.30pm – you can keep up to date with developments this afternoon in our liveblog here.

NINE PEOPLE HAVE been confirmed dead following a major explosion at a service station in Donegal yesterday afternoon.

The incident occurred in the Creeslough area of Donegal at around 3.15pm yesterday.

The death toll from the explosion has now risen to nine after an update early this morning put it at seven, with Gardaí saying that the search and recovery operation is still ongoing.

A spokesperson for the Gardaí said: “An Garda Síochána can now confirm nine fatalities as a result of this incident. The search and recovery for further fatalities continues.”

Earlier this morning, Gardaí said that eight people had been transferred to hospital yesterday for medical attention following the explosion.

Gardaí, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency workers are currently at the scene.

“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,” said Gardaí, adding that diversions are in place.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One this morning, Seán Murphy, the manager of Letterkenny Hospital confirmed that there were children involved in the explosion.

Overnight, a major emergency response operation was underway involving first responders from both sides of the border and it continued into this morning.

Rubble was being moved on to trailers and hauled from the scene.

Two rescue workers were on a raised platform above the site of the explosion and a digger was working through the debris.

explosion-at-donegal-service-station PA A fireman works at the scene of the explosion in Creeslough, Co Donegal PA

Sniffer dogs were being used amid the rubble.

Currently, Gardaí have not provided any information on the suspected cause of the explosion.

Community ‘heartbroken’

In a post on Facebook overnight, the Creeslough Community Association said that the local community was “utterly heartbroken”.

“Our community is utterly heartbroken tonight. Please keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers as we try to process the devastation this day has brought to us all in Creeslough.”

Parish priest, Fr John Joe Duffy, said that local volunteers and emergency responders showed “tremendous generosity” at the scene.

Speaking to reporters, he said there was “such a quick response from the local volunteers in our community” despite “the horror of what we were facing.

He added that people from surrounding communities and across the border “just heard of this and rushed down without being asked to do so.”

A mass was held in the local church in Creeslough this morning.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that it was a “devastating” tragedy and that it had “ripped through the normality of the community”.

IMG_6590 Diarmuid Pepper / The Journal The scene in Creeslough in Donegal this morning Diarmuid Pepper / The Journal / The Journal

“We’re witnessing a terrible, terrible tragedy on a wonderful community in Creeslough and our thoughts and our prayers are with [them],” said Martin, speaking to RTÉ Radio One.

He praised the work of the emergency services from the northwest and Northern Ireland who responded to the tragedy.

“We thank in the warmest way the the emergency services, who went into harm’s way who did everything they possibly could to rescue, to help and to comfort the community… We owe a great debt of gratitude.”

Local Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said that the community in Creeslough would be “forever changed” after the explosion yesterday, saying that there wouldn’t be anyone in the area who wouldn’t know someone who has died.

“There won’t be anybody in this village or indeed further afield that won’t know somebody who was deceased in this explosion,” Doherty said.

“The community’s in shock, we’re just numb. There’s broken hearts all over.”

Agriculture Minister and Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue said that it had been a very difficult time overnight.

“It has been a very difficult time overnight as the emergency services have worked their way through the rubble,” McConalogue said.

“It is a really challenging, traumatic situation here in Creeslough. There is real devastation here in this local community.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that the tragedy has been a “devastating loss for a small community”.

“There is shock right across the island and among Irish people everywhere. We are all holding our loved ones a little closer and a little tighter this morning,” said McDonald.

We are thinking of those who went to a petrol station on a Friday afternoon but didn’t come home. We are all standing in solidarity with the community in Creeslough in the difficult hours that lie ahead.

The Chief Executive of Applegreen, Joe Barrett, has said that yesterday was a “very dark day for Creeslough, for Donegal, for Ireland, and for all of us in the wider Applegreen family”.

“This is a hugely tragic event, and I would like to offer our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased, and to the entire community in Creeslough. We are utterly shocked and saddened at what happened yesterday,” said Barrett.

He said that the Applegreen was at “the very heart of the village” and that “we will continue to assist and support our partners, and the wider Creeslough community, in the days and weeks 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.

President Michael D Higgins said that the tragedy was a “terrible blow” to the local community.

“All of our thoughts must go out to all of those who have been affected. Those who have received news of the loss of a loved one, those injured and, most of all, those who are waiting with anxiety for news of their loved ones,” he said in a statement.

Events cancelled

Events that were scheduled to take place across Donegal today are being cancelled, with local parkruns in Letterkenny, Dungloe, Buncranna and Falcarragh all cancelling out of respect for people impacted by the explosion.

Late last night, it was confirmed that all GAA games in Donegal would be cancelled following the tragedy.

In a statement, Donegal GAA extended thoughts and prayers to the community of Creeslough and said that it would be cancelling all matches scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

“The extent of fatalities and injuries at the terrible explosion this evening is not yet clear but there is little doubt that a tragedy of epic proportions is unfolding,” said Donegal GAA in a statement.

“The thoughts and prayers of everyone involved with CLG Dhún na nGall are with the community of Creeslough, the hardworking emergency services and the Gaels of CLG Naomh Micheál at this terrible time.”

The Donegal Motor Club has also cancelled its Harvest Rally, which was due to take place today.

Additional reporting by Diarmuid Pepper, Emer Moreau and Press Association

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