Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the nations heart stopped yesterday when news spread of the horrific explosion in Creeslough yesterday.
The Fine Gael politician and former Taoiseach issued a statement expressing his sadness after the explosion, which has nine confirmed fatalities so far.
The Tánaiste said: “On Friday the nation’s collective heart stopped when the news broke.
“This unthinkable tragedy happened in a community which we will all be familiar with, to families who were going about their daily lives like we do. This freak accident has left many empty chairs at dinner tables. It is just too hard to fathom.
“The sadness is incomprehensible.
“When something like this happens it’s almost impossible to absorb the horror of it. If there is any consolation, we can find it in the way that the community has rallied and come together. The emergency services in Ireland and Northern Ireland have been heroic. Our hospitals are providing the best of care.
“This is only the beginning of the rescue. The effects will be felt for many years and we all have a role to play in providing whatever comfort we can.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those families who have have lost loved ones, those recovering in hospital, the local community, and our emergency service personnel.
“Go ndéana Dia trócaire orthu agus go dtuga Sé siochán dóibh.”