A three-year-old child and a nine-year-old child are both in serious condition in hospital after a road traffic accident last night.
The two children were among 15 people, including 10 children, who were injured after a head-on collision occurred in Co Kerry shortly before 6pm last night.
The three-year-old suffered head injuries while the nine-year-old suffered head and abdominal injuries. They are both in a serious condition in Cork University Hospital.
A hired Peugeot car carrying two holidaymakers from the UK with their three children collided with a Renault minibus which had a trailer attached on the Killarney to Tralee road.
The mini-bus is understood to have had eight children on board. It is understood that the youngest passenger was 16 months old.
It is understood that one person in the collision was treated for serious back injuries.
Several others sustained broken bones and fractures in the collision and were taken to Kerry General Hospital. The hospital declared a major emergency in anticipation of the casualties.
Cathal O’Donnell, medical director of the National Ambulance Service said four helicopters were called to the scene. He said it was fortunate that the accident happened so close to an airport.
“We were able to transfer the patients to Cork University Hospital... From a hospital perspective, that spreads the load as it were.”
“We train for this. We plan for this all the time. Last night this training stood in good stead for us.”
The incident occurred just one mile outside the village of Farranfore and emergency service helicopters landed at the nearby airport to assist with the incident.
One helicopter flew to a sports field in Bishopstown near Cork University Hospital to transport the two seriously injured young boys.
Ten ambulances and at least three units of the fire brigade also attended the scene, and locals said it was a "miracle" that no one died in the horror smash at the spot, which is known locally as Knockaderry Hill.
"We are blessed that nobody was killed here," said local area Councillor Donal O'Grady.
"It really could have been far worse and it is a miracle really."
Locals said that the site of the crash is known to be a danger spot, and a warning sign to slow down had been removed in recent years.
Local resident Nigel Brosnan said he fears for the safety of his children who "play in the garden just a few feet from the road".
"Our living room is just meters from speeding traffic and cars travelling at speeds that are unsuitable for the bend and something needs to be done," he added.