THE bodies of the five people who died in tragic circmstances this evening in Buncrana have been removed from the scene.
The five, 2 adult males, one adult female and two small boys, all believed to be from Derry, were removed to Letterkenny University Hospital in a fleet of hearses shortly before midnight.
They lost their lives when the car they were in entered the water at the slipway in Buncrana.
A sixth occupant of the car, believed to be an two-month old infant, survived and has been taken to hospital.
The alarm was raised at 7.15pm by local man after he saw the drive drive off the slipway and into Lough Swilly on the north side of Buncrana pier. The slipway is used for the Buncrana to Rathmullan ferry service which operates throughout the summer months.
A major rescue operation, co-ordinated by the Malin Head Coastguard Station, saw two Lough Swilly lifeboats and a number of divers take to the waters while an Irish Air Corps Sircorsky helicopter joined the search before 8pm.
Former Sinn Fein Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn said that the people of Buncrana were still trying to come to terms with the tragedy.
“I’m standing here at the slipway and there’s a full emergency operation in place. Details remain quite sketchy at this early stage but it wold appear that a car went into the water at or near the slipway which is used by the local ferry.
“It looks as though they’re trying to recover a vehicle from the water with reports that four, possibly five, people have lost their lives. It’s a terrible tragedy. There’s a lot of local people gathered around the pier. There’s a sense of shock and disbelief and our hearts go out to the family involved. It’s an unthinkable tragedy,” Mr MacLochlainn said.