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Tragic twist as Australian national killed in petrol station explosion

An Australian-born man has been killed in a petrol station explosion in Ireland, that has so far taken the lives of 10 people, with one as young as five years old.

Originally from Sydney, James O'Flaherty, 48, was in the Applegreen service station in Creeslough on Friday afternoon when the explosion happened, causing bricks and rubble to go everywhere.

Mr O'Flaherty, who was living in Dunfanaghy, has left behind his son Hamish, and wife Tracey, as well as his parents Brendan and Stella, Donegal Live reports.

Photo of Sydney-born James O’Flaherty, 48, who died in the Applegreen service station explosion in the Irish county of Donegal. The photo next to him is of the explosion which shows bricks and rubble on top of cars.
Sydney-born James O’Flaherty, 48, died in the Applegreen service station explosion in the Irish county of Donegal. Source: Facebook / An Garda Síochána and Twitter / Dublin Fire Brigade (Facebook / An Garda Síochána and Twitter / Dublin Fire Brigade)

According to the Irish Times, the engineer worked at a US-based company on large projects all around the world, having studied business at the University of Tasmania and software engineering at the University of New South Wales.

Police are calling the circumstances in the small town of 400 a "tragic accident", Superintendent David Kelly told the ABC, however the incident is still being investigated further for more details.

According to An Garda Síochána, Ireland's National Police Service, the 10 fatalities include four men, three women, two teenagers (one male and one female) and one five-year-old girl.

Their photos have been posted to the An Garda Síochána Facebook page with permission from the families.

The youngest victim Shauna Flanagan Garwe, 5, was killed alongside her father Robert Garwe. A 13-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl were also among those killed.

One man in his 20s remains in a critical condition at St James Hospital in Dublin, while the seven other survivors continue to receive treatment in Letterkenny University Hospital. They remain in a stable condition.

"Garda Family Liaison Officers have been appointed to the families and are continuing to provide support and information," the An Garda Síochána Facebook page reads.

Irish Prime Minister speaks on Applegreen station blast

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin has called the explosion an "unspeakable tragedy".

"It's very difficult to comprehend that as people go about their daily lives, that something like this could happen, in the middle of the day," Prime Minister Martin said.

"Our thoughts, prayers and hearts go out to the people of Creeslough and the families of those who have lost their lives and who have been injured."

"Its been extraordinarily difficult and traumatic for many people."

He also thanked essential services for their work.

Tributes flow for Australian national James O'Flaherty

Following the horrific accident, many who knew Mr O'Flaherty have taken to social media to pay their respects.

"Such a fine young man.. way too young. Rip James," one person said on Facebook.

"My condolences to Tracey, Hamish," said another. "Thinking of Margaret and Pádan and all the O'Donnell family."

"Absolutely heartbreaking," said a third person. "May you rest in peace James, sincere sympathies to all your family and loved ones."

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