10 dead and 8 injured in an explosion at a gas station in Ireland

LONDON — The death toll from a gas station explosion that devastated a small village in northwest Ireland rose to 10 on Saturday, and emergency workers combing through piles of rubble said they did not expect to find more bodies.

Irish police said no one was missing after Friday’s explosion in Creeslough, County Donegal. Police are investigating the cause of the explosion and Superintendent David Kelly said evidence “points to a tragic accident”.

Irish police, An Garda Siochana, said the midday blast killed four men, three women, two teenagers and a school-aged girl. Eight people were hospitalized – one in a critical condition – after the explosion destroyed the Applegreen petrol station in the community of around 400 people near Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coast.

Emergency responders from Ireland and neighboring Northern Ireland took part in what police said was a “search and recovery” operation on Saturday. Sniffer dogs combed through the debris and a mechanical digger lifted piles of rubble from the site on Saturday.

The blast flattened the gas station building, which houses the village’s main store and post office, damaged an adjacent apartment building and shattered windows in nearby cottages.

“There were blocks thrown a hundred meters away from the scene,” said local doctor Dr. Paul Stewart on the Irish television network 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 Micheál Martin said it was one of the “darkest days for Donegal and the whole country”.

“The people on 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 McConalogue, who represents Donegal in the Irish Parliament, said the station was known across the country because of its prominent position on the area’s main N56 road and was “the heart” of the local community.

“People are shocked and numb,” he told Irish broadcaster RTE. “People have come together and everyone is interested in the families of those who have lost loved ones and how they can support them.”

Another local legislator, Pearse Doherty, said people in the community were shocked.

“(It’s) something no one ever thought could happen in a small village like this where everyone knows each other,” he said. “A quarter past three yesterday, children were getting out of school, people were going to collect their welfare payments. For such a nightmare to happen, it will take some time to sink in.”

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