IRELAND: Zimbabwean dad and daughter (5) among victims of petrol station blast

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By BBCNews

A ZIMBABWEAN dad and his five-year-old daughter were among the 10 people killed by an explosion at a petrol station in County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland.

The victims of Friday’s disaster include five-year-old Shauna Flanagan Garwe and her dad Robert Garwe, 50.

The explosion happened in the village of Creeslough in the north-west of Ireland.

A man in his 20s is critically ill in St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

Seven other people who were hurt in the explosion are still being treated at Letterkenny University Hospital in County Donegal – they are in stable condition.

On Sunday An Garda Síochána (the Irish police force) said it was continuing to investigate the cause of the explosion.

Post-mortem examinations of the victims’ bodies are taking place but the results will not be made public.

Garda Supt Liam Geraghty said the victims were “all local people”.

“They are all very much involved in the local community; they were all people who were shopping in their local shop,” he said.

“The schools are going to be impacted, local GAA clubs are going to be impacted, the local church and general community is going to be severely impacted.

“But it is very strong community so I’m sure the community will come together and will support each other.”

‘Living through a nightmare’

Pope Francis was among those who have offered their condolences to the people of Creeslough.

In a letter to the Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian, the Pope’s representative wrote: “His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the loss of life and destruction caused by the explosion in Creeslough.

“He expresses his spiritual closeness to all those suffering in the aftermath of this tragedy.”

Aerial view of Applegreen in Creeslough

This aerial view shows the extent of the damage at the service station

On Sunday, Bishop McGuckian told Mass-goers that the people of Creeslough were “living through a nightmare” after the blast.

He said the disaster was one that “anybody could have been caught up in”.

“Why did they have to be there at that awful moment?” he asked.

Details have also emerged of the search and rescue operation to free those trapped in the rubble, involving both the emergency services and local people.

Dr Gerry Lane told Irish national broadcaster RTÉ that the explosion had left the building “inherently unstable”.

“I saw people in shorts and flip-flops wrenching corrugated iron away with their bare hands,” he said.

“Those people were heroic but were placing themselves in a great deal of danger.”

Dr Lane said three of the rescue workers were injured over the course of Friday night.

Search and rescue workers leave the scene of the explosion in Creeslough

Rescue workers searched throughout Friday night to find those who had been killed and injured

JJ McGowan, the chief ambulance officer at the scene, described the conditions encountered by emergency teams.

“At one stage the fire service had constructed a small mouse hole in the wall to get in to part of the scene,” he said.

“And all I could see was two of our boots sticking out of it, with the green trousers.

“One of our lads [was] in there trying to see what he could see… through what you could only describe as a mouse hole.”

Ten red candles have been lit inside the village church in tribute to those who lost their lives in the explosion.

Over the coming days communities across counties Donegal and neighbouring Tyrone will come together for vigils.

Books of condolence are also opening across Northern Ireland.