Ireland ‘numb’ as death toll at petrol station explosion reaches nine

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At least nine people have died after an explosion at a petrol station in the Irish county of Donegal, Irish police said on Saturday, with search and recovery efforts continuing.

The explosion happened shortly after 3 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) at the Applegreen petrol station on the outskirts of the village of Creeslough. Police said earlier on Saturday that eight more people were receiving treatment in hospital. They have not addressed the cause of the explosion.

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Photographs from the scene showed a residential unit above the petrol station's store with walls blown out and a partially collapsed roof, and debris scattered across the forecourt where several cars were parked.

“The search and recovery for further fatalities continues,” a police statement said.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said the incident was a tragedy for a small community of just a few hundred people.

“People across 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 in a statement late on Friday.

“I wish to express my deepest sympathies to their family, and friends, and to the entire community of Creeslough, on this darkest of days for Donegal and the entire country.”

Local Sinn Fein lawmaker Pearse Doherty said at the scene on Friday that the “massive explosion” was heard from miles around and hours later people were still trapped inside the building with some making contact with the emergency services outside.

He said the petrol station was the only supermarket in the village, also housing a post office and hairdressers and that it would have been very busy at that time just at the end of the school day on a Friday.

The Irish Coast Guard said its nearby helicopter assisted the emergency services and a specialist rescue team was sent to the scene from nearby Northern Ireland.

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