LONDON (AP) — The death toll from a gas station explosion that tore through a small village in northwest Ireland rose to 10 on Saturday, and emergency workers sifting through the piles of debris said they did not expect to find more bodies.
Irish police say no one is missing after Friday’s explosion in Creaslow, County Donegal. Police are investigating the cause of the blast, and Chief David Kelly said evidence “points to a tragic accident.”
Irish police, An Garda Siochana, said the mid-afternoon blast killed four men, three women, two teenagers and a primary school-age girl. Eight people were hospitalized – one in a critical condition – after the explosion destroyed the Applegreen gas station in a community of about 400 people near Ireland’s rocky Atlantic coast.
Emergency services from Ireland and neighboring Northern Ireland joined what police said was a “search and recovery” operation on Saturday. Experimental dogs combed through the debris, and a mechanical excavator lifted piles of debris from the site on Saturday.
The explosion leveled the gas station building, which houses the village’s main store and post office, damaged a neighboring residential building and broke the windows of nearby villas.
“There were blocks thrown a hundred yards from the scene,” local medic Dr Paul Stewart told Irish broadcaster RTE. “The whole front of the building collapsed … and the roof of the first floor collapsed into the shop. It’s a miracle they got anyone out.
Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin said it was one of the “darkest days for Donegal and the whole country”.
“The people of this island will be numbed by the same sense of shock and utter devastation as the people of Creeslough at this tragic loss of life,” Martin said.
Agriculture Minister Charlie McConnalogh, who represents Donegal in the Irish Parliament, said the petrol station was well known across the country due to its prominent location on the main N56 road in the area and was the “heart” of the local community.
“People are shocked and numb,” he told Irish broadcaster RTE. “People are coming together and everyone’s concern is with the families of those who have lost loved ones and how they can support them.”
Another local MP, Piers Doherty, said people in the community were in shock.
“(It’s) something no one ever thought could happen in a small village like this where everyone knows each other,” he said. “Three past fifteen yesterday, the children were getting out of school, people were going to collect their social benefits. For such a nightmare to happen, it will take some time to sink in.
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