Investigators to use advanced 3D modelling to recreate Creeslough explosion

Initial indications suggest the blast was caused by gas which was being stored in an apartment beside the petrol station

Experts investigating the cause of the explosion in Creeslough, Co Donegal, are expected to use 3D modelling to recreate the explosion virtually.

The investigation process will begin in earnest this week once officials from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) confirm the site is safe enough for experts to carry out their work.

Initial indications suggest the blast, in which 10 people were killed, was caused by gas which was being stored in an apartment beside the petrol station. Nothing has been uncovered so far to suggest foul play was a factor.

The investigation is being led by crime scene managers from the Garda Technical Bureau which a Garda spokeswoman called “highly experienced post-blast investigation experts”.


They are being assisted by experts from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities and the HSA, which are providing “valuable assistance and expert guidance on site”.

Independent experts specialising in gas and oil explosions have also been drafted in. It is understood these include specialists from Norwegian-based consultancy DNV.

This company is expected to examine rubble from the blast in its UK-based laboratory. It is also expected to use advanced 3D modelling software to recreate the explosion in a computer environment in an effort to determine the nature of the blast and its path through the complex.

The company also has advanced facilitates in which explosions can be recreated in real life. However, it is not known if these will be utilised.

As well as assisting the investigation and the coroners process, this information will inform future safety regulations, sources said.

DNV has been tasked with investigating many gas explosions worldwide, including an explosion at an industrial plant in Tarragona, Spain, in 2020, which killed three people.

The Creeslough investigation is still in the early stages as the site remains in a dangerous state. Garda said the scene is still undergoing a “make safe process” and that experts from various agencies are on standby to begin their work.

The Garda remains in overall control of the scene and investigation and a Garda crime scene manager is “overseeing all forensic and expert activities on site”, the spokeswoman said.

Last week the Garda applied to the High Court for a two-week preservation order to prevent anyone interfering with the site. This was granted by Mr Justice Paul McDermott.

This order is expected to be renewed. Garda sources said it was impossible to say how long the investigation will last but that it will likely involve several more weeks of on-site work.

The last of the victims’ funerals took place on Saturday when Robert Garwe and his five year old daughter Shauna Flanagan Garwe were laid to rest side by side. The other fatalities included three teenagers.

President Michael D Higgins travelled to the village for most of the funerals, including those on Saturday. “The funerals are over, but all the vacant spaces are there. All the losses that were experienced. Something new will have to come in its place,” President Higgins said.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times