Five reported dead after family car plunges off pier into sea
Five people believed to be from one family have died after a vehicle plunged off a pier in Co Donegal, according to reports.
It is understood six people, including three children, were in the estate car when it went into the water at Buncrana shortly after 7pm.
A major air and sea search was mounted and the bodies of two adults and three children of primary school age were recovered.
An infant who was rescued was taken to nearby Letterkenny Hospital for emergency treatment and is in a critical condition.
The exact circumstances of how the car, which had a Northern Ireland registration plate, ended up in Lough Swilly have not been established but it is believed the slipway may have been covered in algae.
Witnesses have described the scenes as chaotic.
There are unconfirmed reports that the young child, thought to be just months old, was handed or thrown out of a window as the car careered into the water.
Two lifeboats from Lough Swilly and Greencastle, a helicopter from Sligo, gardai, ambulances, the fire brigade and local fishing boats were all involved in the rescue mission which lasted for several hours.
A Garda spokesman said : ” Gardai and emergency services are at the scene of an incident that occurred at Buncrana Pier this evening.
“A car entered the water and a search of the area is currently ongoing. No further information at present.”
It is understood the car has been removed for examination.
The pier is a popular attraction for tourists and locals and it is believed the family may have stopped to admire the sunset.
There has been an outpouring of grief on social media.
Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was among those who expressed sadness at the tragedy.
He said: “My thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the devastating tragedy unfolding in Buncrana this evening.
“Our thoughts and appreciation must also be with the emergency services who have had to deal with this tragic situation.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described the news as “heartbreaking”.