Video: Frantic shoppers tried to pull victims free from rubble
IT was a simple shopping trip that turned to tragedy for two families. In a freak accident, a massive internal wall collapsed on customers at the Connacht Gold DIY and Garden Centre in Longford town.
Now two families are grieving, while four others wait anxiously for news of their injured relatives.
The centre, which had only been open for a year, was popular with local farmers and builders. One of the victims, Sean Mulleady, was a regular shopper there.
The centre was crowded at 2pm yesterday with shoppers going about their day. Only four staff were on duty at the time as others took their lunch break.
But within a matter of minutes, a 40ft wall came tumbling down, trapping those in its wake.
Staff and bystanders found themselves frantically trying to pull masonry off the injured who were lying trapped on the floor. Others called the emergency services.
One man who was shopping at the time had a narrow escape, having stepped away from the scene just seconds before the wall collapsed in order to take a phone call.
"It would have come down on top of him had he stayed where he was. He was back within seconds trying to help those who were injured," said one friend.
Within minutes, up to nine ambulances had arrived, along with two crews from the local fire brigade and a number of gardai.
All the witnesses will now be interviewed, their recollections vital in piecing together what went wrong.