Omagh Bombing: `So many injured I did not know where to start'

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DOMINIC PINTO, senior consultant surgeon at Tyrone County Hospital, described yesterday how he was greeted by "scenes from a battlefield" when he arrived to tend the injured: "There were so many people injured one didn't know where to start. I am still trying to fathom out what makes people do this. I am saddened and lost for words."

Mr Pinto, who has worked at the hospital for 18 years, issued a plea to the terrorists to stop the violence.

He said: "It saddens me to think that people perpetrate such atrocity. I want to appeal to these people and say what have they gained by doing this? It is their own people that they are injuring and maiming.

"I appeal to them, let me not see this sort of thing again. It's dastardly."

Mr Pinto, like most of the medical staff, worked through the night to deal with the crisis. He said many hospital workers had relatives and friends among the casualties. He added: "One or two of my staff had their own children involved. Unfortunately one case was quite a severe incident."

Hospital staff were assisted at the peak of the crisis by medical workers from across Northern Ireland. A spokesman said that at one time there were 14 anaesthetists on site, although he had no accurate figures for the total number of medical, nursing and support staff drafted in.

Paramedics, GPs, volunteers, health workers and members of the clergy also did what they could to help. The spokesman said: "It was a marvellous response and one which we are extremely thankful for."