Church leaders in Ireland are among those paying tribute to the community and emergency services after an explosion at a petrol station in County Donegal left nine people dead.
The search for more people who are believed to be trapped in the rubble has been continuing through the night. The blast happened on Friday afternoon at the Applegreen service station and convenience store in the village of Creeslough about 30 miles from the border with Northern Ireland. The explosion ripped through cars and nearby buildings.
Among those gathered overnight at the scene cordon were relatives of people believed to have been in the buildings at the time.
Reverend Paul Linkens, Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's Presbytery of Derry and Donegal said in a statement :
"This afternoon's explosion in Cresslough has come as terrible shock. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been injured and their families who are understandably shaken and worried by what has happened, especially those who are still awaiting news of their loved ones. As the emergency services continue to work into the night with skill and determination, we give thanks for their commitment and perseverance and continue to pray for everyone caught up in this heart-breaking incident."
Rt Rev Alan McGuckian who is the Bishop of Raphoe, said even the police have been taken aback by the community spirit :
"We see more clearly than ever before the power of a good community. I heard from the Guarda (Ireland's National Police Service) that at the very beginning they were astounded at how readily and quickly members of the community raced up and were doing all in their power to try and help."
The Irish Prime Minister, Micheal Martin said it was the 'darkest of days' for Donegal and Ireland :
"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."
In a statement, Irish police An Garda Siochana said the operation remained in a "search and recovery phase" for further fatalities :
"An Garda Siochana can now confirm seven fatalities as a result of this incident - three fatalities were confirmed yesterday; four fatalities are now confirmed overnight," it stated.
"The search and recovery for further fatalities continues.
"Eight persons were transferred to hospital for medical attention yesterday."
There has been no confirmation of the cause of the explosion, but an independent councillor in Donegal John O'Donnell told the BBC his understanding was that the incident was caused by a gas explosion.