Three people have been killed in an explosion at a service station in Co Donegal, Ireland.
The explosion happened just after 3pm on Friday at the Applegreen service station on the outskirts of Creeslough, where a search operation is continuing with the help of sniffer dogs.
Photos showed a number of cars damaged by debris, with what appears to be an apartment block behind the forecourt having been largely destroyed.
Councillor John O’Donnell earlier told Sky News: “This is very, very hard here in a small rural village.
“Everybody’s completely numb here – we’re just all in shock.”
A spokesperson for Letterkenny University Hospital said soon after the explosion that it was “dealing with a serious incident, with multiple injured people requiring immediate attention”.
“The hospital has moved to Major Emergency Standby as it deals with this incident.
“We are appealing to the public not to come to the Emergency Department unless it is an emergency.”
Forecourt retailer Applegreen confirmed there was a “serious incident” at one of its dealer-operated locations.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said: “My thoughts and prayers are today with those who have lost their lives, and those injured in the devastating explosion in Creeslough.
“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.
“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.
“I would like to thank all the members of the emergency services, from across the North-West and Northern Ireland, who responded so quickly to the scene, and who are working throughout the night in extremely traumatic circumstances.”
TD Pearse Doherty told RTE news: “This is something that’s your worst nightmare.
“This is a quiet village, a very close-knit village, this is the only shop in the town.
“It ripped right through this building, and this was a very busy location at that point in time.”
Mr Doherty said it had left “a very, very dark cloud” over the community.
He said: “There are silent prayers being said, there are people still trapped within the building and the emergency services are doing everything that they can to remove the rubble, and people are being airlifted away to our hospitals in the region.
“There’s just quiet, it’s surreal. People are just holding on for hope, holding on to hear news, positive news coming from the emergency services.”
Residents have been asked to stay away from the area.
Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said it was a “very sad and tragic day”.
He thanked Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann for the emergency crews he provided to help the situation in Creeslough.
In a post on Twitter, Mr Coveney said: “Sincere thanks for your help today Robin. Very sad and tragic day.”