Car crash victim cousins mourned
A rural community has been plunged into grief following the deaths of two cousins in a car accident.
The pair, whose names have not been released, are believed to be aged 19 and 21 and from the Donemana area of Co Tyrone.
They died when the car they were travelling in crashed outside Londonderry during the early hours of this morning.
Reverend Judi McGaffin said their families were struggling to cope with the tragedy.
She said: "Both grieving families are struggling to come to terms with what has happened and they wish to mourn in private."
The single vehicle crash happened on Victoria Road between the villages of Newbuildings and Magheramason just after 3am.
Two others, an 18-year-old man and 16-year-old girl, who were also in the black Volkswagen Golf, are in a stable condition in hospital.
Rev McGaffin added: "News of their tragic and untimely deaths has left a deep sense of shock in the village and beyond.
"The loss is felt most acutely by the men's families but it will be shared by their many young friends.
"The bereaved, the injured and all those affected by this tragedy, are in our prayers at this most difficult time.
"The circumstances of this morning's crash are still unclear. The police have begun an investigation and I would urge anyone who can help that investigation to do so."
The road was sealed off for much of the day as police officers tried to established how the accident occurred. It has since re-opened.
Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness used Twitter to express his condolences.
He said: "Very sad to hear of the loss of two young lives & injuries to others in an accident near Derry. My thoughts & prayers with their families."
DUP MLA Gary Middleton, who knows one of the injured, said: "Living in Newbuildings I know this road very well and I would hope that information can be gathered to establish exactly what happened.
"I know one of the other passengers who was travelling in the car and I will be visiting some of the families as soon as possible. I want to pass on my sympathies to those families who have suffered such a terrible loss today and hope that those who are in hospital might make a speedy recovery."
SDLP West Tyrone MLA Joe Byrne also expressed concern.
He said: "I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn about this tragedy that has claimed the lives of two young men early this morning. My thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this incredibly difficult time.
"My thoughts, too, are with those who were injured in the accident. They, and their families, will also be going through a traumatic time and I know that the local community will offer them every support."
To date 28 people have died on Northern Ireland's roads this year -- two more than in the same period in 2014 and six more than 2013.
A total of 79 people were killed in road accidents last year.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) inspector Jonny Hunter has appealed for anyone who saw a black Volkswagen Golf travelling from Strabane to Londonderry between 3am and 3.30am to contact officers on the non-emergency 101 number.
An 18-year-old-man has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.