Shauna Flanagan Garwe, the five-year-old killed in a massive explosion which engulfed a petrol station in Ireland on Friday, was a “great little character” who had been excited to buy a birthday cake for her mum, her uncle has said. The youngster was one of ten people who died in the explosion, Applegreen filling station in the town of Creeslough in County Donegal, along with other victims including her father Robert Garwe.
Killian Flanagan, the brother of Shauna’s mum Aine, said: “It was Aine’s birthday during the week, and they decided to celebrate it at the weekend, and Shauna was excited about going down to buy a birthday cake for her mum, and this happened. It was as random as that.”
“She was a great little character. Everyone loved her. What more can you say? She was just five years of age.”
“There’s no other way to tell the story other than it’s a pure human tragedy.”
Emphasising the tragically random nature of what appears to have been a great accident, he said: “There was nobody that had to be there at that point. ‘I’ll go in and buy a coffee’ or ‘I’ll go in and buy a card’.
“It could have been an hour later or two hours later. It was just awful, tragic timing, and this town will never recover from this. Aine is numb. It’s a birthday she’ll never forget.
“It’s awful. The whole town is distraught. Devastated. We’re from Dublin originally. Aine’s been living here a few years and she has a lot of family, like cousins and aunts and uncles around here.”
Stressing the way in which their neighbours had rallied round, Mr Flanagan said: “I’ve never witnessed anything like this community before. I really haven’t.
“This community is incredible. I’m married into a family from rural Ireland and I have never seen anything like this.
The offers of accommodation, food, the offers of help. We could put half of Dublin up with the offers of accommodation we’ve had.
“It’s unbelievable. They are the nicest people, the most friendly people.”
Also killed in the blast were James O’Flaherty, 48, Jessica Gallagher, 24, Martin McGill, 49, Catherine O’Donnell, 39 and son James Monaghan, 13, Hugh Kelly, 59, Martina Martin, 49 and Leona Harper, 14.
A man in his twenties remains in a critical condition at St James’s Hospital in Dublin,with seven other survivors currently being treated at Letterkenny University Hospital, all of whom are in stable condition.
King Charles III sent a message of condolence in which he said: “My wife and I were filled with immense sadness when we heard of that appallingly tragic explosion at Creeslough, County Donegal.
“We remember with the greatest fondness meeting people from across Donegal when we visited in 2016 and the strong sense of community that exists there.”
He added: “However inadequate this may be under such shattering circumstances, we wanted you to know that our most heartfelt sympathy and deepest condolences are with those families and friends who have lost their loved ones in this devastating tragedy, together with yourself and the people of Ireland.