A five-year-old girl and her father were among 10 people killed in the devastating explosion at a petrol station in Ireland, as the identities of all the victims were revealed.
Shauna Flanagan Garwe and her father Robert Garwe, 50, had popped into the petrol station shop to buy a birthday cake for her mum at the time of the explosion.
Catherine O’Donnell, 39, and her 13-year-old son James Monaghan were also among the dead following the blast in the village of Creeslough on Friday afternoon, in what has been described as a “freak accident”.
In a news conference on Sunday, police said the other six victims were James O’Flaherty, 48, Jessica Gallagher, 24, Martin McGill, 49, Hugh Kelly, 59, Martina Martin, 49, and 14-year-old Leona Harper.
A man in his 20s is in a critical condition in hospital in Dublin, while seven other people are being treated at Letterkenny University Hospital and are described as being in a stable condition.
Tributes have been paid to Leona, with Letterkenny Rugby Club describing her as a “talented rugby player” and an “important part of our U14 girls’ team” in a post on their Facebook page.
Leona’s father Hugh wrote underneath the post: “The past 24 hours have been nothing short of hell.
“Leona loved rugby, although this year she was taking time out for boxing. But her first love was Letterkenny Rugby Club.”
Leona and fellow victim James Monaghan were pupils at Mulroy College, as were a number of those injured in the blast.
The school’s principal Fiona Temple said: “We as a school community are devastated on hearing of the tragedy and the fatal outcome for our two beautiful students and our cherished parents.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and the Creeslough community at this time.
“We are numbed by this overwhelming sadness and will work together to support all members of our school community in the coming days, weeks and months ahead.”
Glenswilly Gaelic Athletic Association posted in memory of Ms Martin, saying the club had been “shocked” to learn of her death in the disaster.
Garda Superintendent Liam Geraghty said on Sunday that the scene of the explosion is still being examined and remains cordoned off.
Post mortem examinations on the victims have started and will continue over the next few days, although results will not be released for “operational reasons”.
Mr Geraghty said: “It is a huge impact for a small rural community – they were all local people, all very much involved in the community, all shopping in their local shop.
“But it is a very strong community, as seen here on Friday afternoon… so I’m sure the community will come together and will support each other.”
Meanwhile, parents hugged their children as hundreds of people attended a vigil in the town of Milford, a half an hour’s drive from Creeslough, in memory of the 10 people who died.
Prayers were said and music was played, including a song called Creeslough, written and played by a local musician.
It is the first of almost 20 vigils due to be held across Co Donegal on Sunday.
It came after the Pope offered his condolences to the people of Ireland in the wake of the explosion.
A statement sent by his representative to Bishop of Raphoe Alexander McGuckian reads: “His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the loss of life and destruction caused by the explosion in Creeslough and he expresses his spiritual closeness to all those suffering in the aftermath of this tragedy.
“While entrusting the deceased to the merciful love of almighty God, His Holiness implores the divine blessings of consolation and healing upon the injured, the displaced and the families coping with pain of loss.
“As a pledge of strength and peace in the lord, the Holy Father sends his blessing to all the people of Ireland.”
Family ‘in pieces’ after youngest victim died buying mum birthday cake
The youngest victim of the Creeslough explosion had been buying a birthday cake for her mum when she was killed.
Five-year-old Shauna Flanagan Garwe died alongside her father, who was known as Bob, as they were shopping in the service station not far from their home.
The family released a photograph of Shauna in her primary school uniform at the gates of her school.
Her 50-year-old father, who was Zimbabwean, had taken her after school to buy the cake as the family prepared to celebrate Shauna’s mother’s birthday.
Irish Police confirmed that the girl’s primary school would be working to support pupils and staff in the coming days.
One local who has spent time with Shauna’s family over the weekend said they are “in pieces”.
The man who didn’t want to be named told Sky News: “They are distraught.
“They have family travelling up to be with them but you just can’t imagine it can you?
“It’s just tragic, that poor little girl – none of these people deserved this.”
Bishop McGuckian earlier told Sunday mass at St Michael’s Church that the community of Creeslough was “living through a nightmare of shock and horror”.
He added: “Over the last couple of days as people gathered in groups to talk about what has happened here these last days, the one word that stands out for me in relation to the explosion is something somebody said.
“It is so random, they said. And what she was referring to was, anybody could have been caught up in that. There’s something deeply shocking and upsetting about what life throws up, can throw up.”
Mr Geraghty said there had been “very traumatic scenes” on Friday, adding that emergency services personnel had come from across Co Donegal as well as from Northern Ireland to help.