Belfast Telegraph

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Families grieve for crash victims

Devastated communities are beginning the harrowing task of arranging eight funerals of loved ones killed in the worst ever road accident in the Irish Republic.

Seven friends who had been watching Spain's World Cup win died instantly along with another man in a horror smash on the Inishowen peninsula.

Some of the friends, who were aged between 19 and 23, left their cars behind to take a lift after socialising in the village of Clonmany minutes before the collision.

Eight people were packed into a Volkswagen Passat which clipped a Renault Megane on the country road to Buncrana before crashing head-on into a Toyota Corolla 200 yards away. Both cars ended up in a ditch.

Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, gardai said.

The driver of the third car, who was alone, was also killed - 66-year-old Hugh Friel, an unmarried man from Dunaff, Clonmany, was returning home after an evening at bingo in Buncrana.

The others were named as Paul Doherty, 19, from Ardagh, Ballyliffin; Ciaran Sweeney, 19, also from Ballyliffin; Patrick "PJ" McLaughlin, 21, from Rockstown, Tooban, Burnfoot; Mark McLaughlin, 21, from Ballynahone, Fahan; and his cousin Damien McLaughlin, 21, from Umricam, near Buncrana; Eamonn McDaid, from Ballymagan, Buncrana; and James McEleney, 23, from Minaduff, Clonmany.

All the men died at the scene.

Fire service crews, paramedics and gardai were said to have been in shock after seeing the scale of death and devastation on the rural road.

The driver of the car carrying eight people was named as Sean Kelly from the Urris area. He was in a critical but stable condition in Letterkenny General Hospital.

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