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100 evacuated as bomb under car explodes

GARDAI say it was a miracle that a pipe bomb placed underneath a parked car in a busy housing estate didn't kill somebody.

Around 20 homes had to be evacuated in Mervue Lawn/Meadowpark Grove in Ballyvolane, Cork, and a Defence Forces bomb disposal expert received minor injuries when the device exploded as it was being removed at 12.45am.

The army official -- in his 30s -- suffered minor blast injuries to his hands but is expected to make a full recovery.

The man was leading the bomb disposal team -- and was on the roadway near the parked car when the device detonated.

He remains in Cork University Hospital (CUH) as gardai acknowledged that the incident could easily have ended in tragedy.

The officer is being treated for shock and minor blast injuries and is currently under observation.

The drama began at 10pm last night when a man was spotted acting suspiciously near a parked car.

A neighbour rang gardai and officers alerted the Defence Forces Explosives & Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team when a device was spotted underneath the parked Toyota Avensis.

The device was deemed to be a viable explosive -- and a precautionary evacuation was ordered.

Over 100 men, women and children were taken from their homes by gardai shortly before midnight as the EOD team assessed the device.

About 20 homes had to be evacuated.

The residents were taken to Ballyvolane Church for shelter with several admitting they were shocked by developments.

"People couldn't believe it -- one minute they were watching TV and the next they were being told by the guards to get out of their houses as fast as possible," Pat Murphy said.

The EOD team couldn't use their robot to get at the device due to its location and the manner in which the car was parked.

The EOD team was assessing the device for removal and safe disposal when it detonated.

The army team were later able to rule the area safe and residents were allowed back to their homes from 2.30am.

Gardai are today conducting a painstaking examination of the scene.

The car will be removed for full forensic examination and officers are conducting door-to-door inquiries to determine if anyone saw suspicious behaviour in the estate over recent days.

A man in his 30s has been detained for questioning under the Offences Against the State Act when he attempted to get past the safety cordon at the scene.

He can be held for a period of seven days.