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Friday 24 March 2017

Irish woman survives deadly blast in US

Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

AN Irish woman is recovering after surviving a massive explosion that killed her colleague and a horse in an American equestrian rehabilitation centre.

Astonishingly, Sorcha Moneley (33), from Castlebar, Co Mayo, escaped with only minor injuries from the blast which could be heard up to 30 miles away. The incident happened in Ocala, Florida, at Kesmarc, a horse rehabilitation and medical centre.

Ms Moneley had been observing the use of a hyperbaric chamber -- a chamber which uses highly compressed oxygen to treat horses.

She was monitoring the treatment as part of a course she is undertaking in England.

However, during the treatment the horse in the chamber panicked and began to kick the wall, breaking off the protective layer.

When his steel shoe hit off the exposed steel wall it caused sparks which reacted with the pressurised oxygen causing a massive explosion.

Englishwoman Erica Mar- shell (28), who had recently married, died in the blast as did the horse.

Ms Marshell was still standing at the controls of the machine trying to decompress the chamber when it exploded.

However, Ms Moneley noticed the sparks and was 20ft away from the machine after leaving to try to raise the alarm -- a decision that saved her life.

The roof of the building was ripped off and locals said the sound was like that of a massive sonic boom. Debris was thrown up to 1,200ft away.

Ms Moneley's brother Seamas explained how she had noticed that there were sparks in the chamber and was running to try and contact the fire station at the time.

"She was conscious for the whole thing. She managed to give the paramedics our brother's mobile number and he could hear her talking in the background," he said.

She suffered a bump on the head, a broken ankle and a fractured pelvis but otherwise escaped major injury.

On Tuesday she had surgery on her pelvis. A police investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Irish Independent

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