Members of search and rescue group return to site of Creeslough explosion where they located victims

Families of some of the victims of the Creeslough explosion are expected to meet with those who helped with the search and rescue operation Northern Ireland who helped locate their loved ones.

Search dogs Bodhi and Tess and their handlers will attend a memorial service in the Donegal village later today marking the first anniversary of the tragedy.

They’re part of Search and Rescue Dog Association Ireland North (SARDA IN) which was tasked by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) to attend the scene in Donegal shortly after the explosion at a petrol station.

On this day last year 10 people were killed as the blast ripped through the forecourt shop and flats above collapsed.

Dog handler Michael McCamley described to UTV the scene they encountered: “Me and Bodhi responded as quickly as we could to Donegal… It was like a movie scene, the place was in devastation…..but me and Bodhi went in  to do our job.”

The two dog teams had been hoping to find survivors in the rubble.

But the rescue mission turned into a recovery operation.

Tess and Bodhi helped to locate victims enabling emergency services to recover their remains.

Victims of the Creeslough explosion.

Michael hopes their work spared families the agony of even longer waits: “We went in trying to find live bodies but unfortunately it wasn’t to be but this is why we do this to help someone out and I hope we just helped the families that night.”

The first anniversary will be marked this afternoon by a memorial service at the scene around the same time as the explosion.

SARDA IN have been invited to attend.

Michael says it will bring back memories from the night of the tragedy.

“It’s an honour to be invited and me and Bodhi and the rest of the rescue teams are looking forward to meeting the families and bringing a bit of closure to what happened."

SARDA IN is the only official voluntary search dog team on the Northern Ireland Search and Rescue Register.

Members come from across Northern Ireland and are the only voluntary dog teams that are tasked by the PSNI or the Fire and Rescue Service to search collapsed buildings or for missing persons.

Victims of the Creeslough explosion will also be remembered at a special mass for family and friends in St. Michael’s Church in the village later tonight.

The service will be streamed on the internet.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.