THE ten people who lost their lives in the horror service station explosion have been named and pictured by gardai this afternoon.
The victims are Catherine O’Donnell, 39, and her 14-year-old son James Monaghan; Robert Garwe, 50, and his five-year-old daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe; 14-year-old Leona Harper; Jessica Gallagher, 24; James O’Flaherty, 48; Martin McGill, 49; Martina Martin, 49, and 59-year-old Hugh Kelly.
Shauna Flanagan Garwe, five, is the youngest victimCredit: Social Media Collect
Shauna’s dad Robert Garwe, 50, stopped to buy a birthday cake for her mumCredit: Social Media Collect
Leona Harper, 14, was buying an ice creamCredit: Social Media Collect
Jessica Gallagher, 24, had recently returned from ParisCredit: Social Media Collect
Emergency services attend the scene following an explosion in Creeslough on Friday
They lost their lives after an explosion rocked the village of Creeslough, Co Donegal, on Friday afternoon.
Post mortems will be carried out on their bodies “over the next few days”, gardai said.
Eight people are still being treated for their injuries in hospital.
One person remains critical at a Dublin hospital and seven others are in a stable condition at Letterkenny University Hospital.
Gardai have said they are continuing to investigate “all of the circumstances” into the cause of the blast.
A spokesperson said this afternoon: “The investigation is being coordinated from an incident room at Milford Garda Station.
“The Garda Technical Bureau, with assistance from other agencies, will continue to examine the scene, which remains cordoned off.
“These examinations are likely to continue over the coming days. Traffic diversions on the N56 at the scene of the incident remain in place.
“A total of 10 fatalities have been confirmed arising from this fatal explosion.
“The remains of the deceased are at Letterkenny University Hospital where State post mortems have commenced under the direction of Dr. Heidi Okkers, Assistant State Pathologist.
“These post mortems will continue over the next few days. Results will not be released for operational reasons.
“One male in his 20s remains in a critical condition in St. James Hospital, Dublin.
“The seven other surviving casualties continue to receive treatment in Letterkenny University Hospital and remain in stable condition.
“The 10 fatalities included four men, three women, two teenagers (one male and one female) and one younger female child.
“Garda Family Liaison Officers have been appointed to the families and are continuing to provide support and information.”
Catherine O’Donnell and her son James, 14, perished in the explosion
Celtic fan Martin McGill, 49, also passed away in the tragedyCredit: Social Media Collect
Martina Martin, 49, was also named by gardai todayCredit: Social Media Collect
Tributes are being paid to the deceased victims on social media with condolences sent to their heartbroken families.
‘NOTHING SHORT OF HELL’
Leona’s devastated dad has told how the past 24 hours have been “nothing short of hell”.
Hugh Harper thanked the Letterkenny Rugby Club after they paid tribute to the young woman.
It is understood she was buying an ice cream in the Applegreen when the blast happened.
He said: “The past 24 hours have been nothing short of hell.
“Unfortunately Leona was in the explosion in Cresslough and she didn’t survive, along with nine others.
“Knowing that we have the support of the club and its members offers us huge support. Thank you.”
He added: “Leona loved rugby although this year she was taking time out for boxing. But her first love was Letterkenny Rugby Club.”
Letterkenny Rugby Club took to social media yesterday to pay tribute to the popular teen.
They said: “We are heartbroken to say our worst fears have been confirmed. Leona Harper tragically lost her life yesterday in Creeslough.
“Leona was a talented rugby player and an important part of our U14 girls team.”
They added: “To Leona’s parents, Hugh and Donna, her brothers Anthony and Jamie, and all of her team mates, we offer you our deepest condolences and support.
“There are no words that feel strong enough at a moment of deep sorrow such as this. Rest in peace, Leona.”
Robert Garwe and his daughter Shauna had been buying a birthday cake for the child’s mum when they died in the tragedy.
Jessica Gallagher, 23, had been studying in Paris and recently returned home.
Her boyfriend is understood to be among the eight who are still in hospital receiving treatment.
In a Facebook post, Letterkenny man John McGeady said: “I’m sure you’ve all heard about the gas explosion in Creeslough.
“Unfortunately our cousin Anthony Gallagher has lost his daughter Jessica in the explosion.
“Jessica was in the same year at school as my daughter Flonnuala. Our thoughts are with her parents and two sisters and also with all the friends and families of all the other victims of this disaster.”
Farmer Hugh Kelly, 59, has been remembered as a “gentleman” who always had time for people.
A heartbroken cousin told us: “Hughie was a local farmer who had time for everyone in this area.
“He was always around to help people when they needed it and will be sorely missed in this community.
“Hughie was a gentleman who enjoyed a drink and always had time for people.
“He has left a close family behind and he will never be forgotten.”
‘LIVING THROUGH A NIGHTMARE’
Meanwhile, a bishop has said the people of Creeslough are “living through a nightmare of shock and horror”.
Addressing the congregation during Sunday mass at St Michael’s Church in Creeslough, Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian said: “At this time, you, the people of Creeslough, are living through a nightmare of shock and horror since the very heart of the community was deeply wounded on Friday afternoon.
“It’s an experience that we are living through together. But we recognise that the trauma is different for every single individual. We hold in our hearts most especially those for whom this is most acute.
“We think firstly of the 10 who have lost their lives and gone to God, and then of those nearest to them who are most cruelly bereaved.
“And then we think of the injured, struggling to recover in body and spirit. We think of everyone, both from the community and the first responders in the public services who have carried the burden of being close to the tragedy as it has unfolded.
“And we remember everyone here in Creeslough, and indeed throughout Ireland and further, who feels helpless and shaken by what has happened.”
Locals had raced to the scene after they heard the blast on Friday.
Many used their bare hands to dig through the wreckage, with some witnessing terrible sights.
A human chain was formed to move lumps of masonry away from the scene.
It is understood that some of the rescuers heard shouts and screams from the wreckage of what was left of the service station.
Their efforts were instrumental in saving the life of one teenage girl.
Later, after the emergency services and trained volunteers took over, they asked for people in the area to stay quiet in the hope of hearing anyone shouting out from under the rubble.
One local man told us that the sound of the explosion “near blew me off the sofa”.
He said: “I thought the roof was coming in round me. I went to the door to see if anything had happened to any neighbours’ houses and I realised it was up the street.
“I went up, started to help out, just tried to do what I could.
“I’ve done a first-aid course in the past and it’s amazing how it all just kicks in when you are seeing a man lying there covered in blood.
“It makes you think. I don’t want to talk about it more than that.”
Gardai are treating the horrific blast at the petrol station as a “tragic accident”.
James O’Flaherty, 48, is a dad of young childrenCredit: Social Media Collect
Hugh Kelly, 59, was also named as one of the ten deceasedCredit: Social Media Collect