Republic of Ireland news

Number of people injured after explosion at Donegal service station

Emergency services at the scene at Applegreen service station located in the village of Creeslough in Co Donegal where multiple injuries have been reported after an explosion. Picture by Nina Gabel, PA
PA reporters

Multiple injuries have been reported after a “devastating” explosion at a Co Donegal service station.

The Applegreen service station located in the village of Creeslough sustained extensive damage in the blast. Surrounding buildings were also badly damaged.

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

There were unconfirmed reports from the scene that people had been buried in the rubble following the mid-afternoon explosion.

Multiple emergency service vehicles are in attendance while a Coastguard helicopter is also providing support.

Letterkenny University Hospital has moved to major emergency standby, and appealed to the public not to attend its emergency department unless it is urgent.

“Please contact your GP or NowDoc service in the first instance. NowDoc has increased staffing this evening to help deal with any additional demands,” it said.

Applegreen said in a short statement that it is “aware of a serious incident at its dealer-operated location at Creeslough”.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar described the incident as “tragic”.

In a post on Twitter, he wrote: “Terrible news from Donegal tonight.

“Our thoughts are with all those affected by the tragic events and with the emergency services responding.”

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 gardai and fire engines.

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

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said it has dispatched specialist crews to assist the Donegal Fire Service at a “declared major incident” at the service station.

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.”

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said it was after 3pm when the “devastating” explosion took place that has left “a very, very dark cloud” over the community.

“It ripped right through this building, and this was a very busy location at that point in time,” he told RTÉ news.

“Three o’clock, it’s just after school, people were going to collect their pensions. This is a very, very, very busy locality here at this shop, this petrol station, this deli, the post office at this time.

“There’s just quiet, it’s surreal. People are just holding on for hope, holding on to hear news, positive news coming from the emergency services.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Anthony Molloy told the PA news agency it is “beyond words” as he knows the family who own the service station.

“My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved,” Mr Molloy said.

“It looks horrific from what I can see from photographs. It looks terrible. It’s just terrible.

“I know the family. It’s beyond words.”

Local councillor Donal Mandy Kelly told PA the news was “devastating”.

He said: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved.”

Independent Donegal councillor John O’Donnell said he was praying there were no fatalities.

“What we’re hearing is there’s just absolute carnage in Creeslough at the moment, there’s a massive gas explosion,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.

“The feedback I’m getting from family and friends who are unfortunately down at the scene and in the area is just that the whole place is chaos at the minute, everybody’s very, very taken aback and devastated at what’s happening.”

An Garda Síochána has asked motorists travelling towards Creeslough to use alternative routes.

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