Death Toll Rises In Blast At Gas Station In Ireland

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Death Toll Rises In Blast At Gas Station In Ireland
Emergency responders from Ireland and neighboring Northern Ireland are involved in what police said was now a "search and recovery" operation.

The death toll in an explosion at a gas station in a small village in northwest Ireland has risen to nine, police said Saturday, as emergency workers combed piles of rubble for more victims.

Irish police said they did not expect to find more survivors from Friday's explosion in Creeslough, County Donegal. Eight people are in hospitals after a blast tore through the Applegreen service station in the community of about 400 people.

"The search and recovery for further fatalities continues," said the police force, An Garda Siochana. The cause of the blast is under investigation.

Emergency responders from Ireland and neighboring Northern Ireland are involved in what police said was now a "search and recovery" operation. Sniffer dogs combed the debris, and a mechanical digger lifted piles of rubble from the site.

The explosion leveled the gas station building, which holds the main shop and post office for the village, and damaged an adjacent residential building.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said it was one of the "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," Martin said.

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, who represents Donegal in Ireland's parliament, said the service station was well known across the country because of its prominent position on the main N56 road, and was "the heart" of the local community.

"People are shocked and numbed," he told Irish broadcaster RTE. "People have been rallying together and everyone's concern is with the families of those who have lost their loved ones and how they can support them in the days ahead."

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.