Omagh blast was so severe that mostvictims had no chance of being saved

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The Independent Online

Harrowing details about the injuries suffered by the victims of the Omagh bombing were spelt out yesterday when the inquest on the massacre began focusing on individual cases of the dead.

Harrowing details about the injuries suffered by the victims of the Omagh bombing were spelt out yesterday when the inquest on the massacre began focusing on individual cases of the dead.

A pathologist described how most, if not all those who died, suffered injuries so terrible in the Real IRA carbomb explosion that their lives could never have been saved.

The blast in Omagh, Co Tyrone, on 15 August 1998, claimed the lives of 29 people, among them a woman heavily pregnant with twins, in the worst single episode of terrorist violence in the decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.

As the inquest in Omagh Leisure Complex was told of the known circumstances of six of the deaths, the consultant in charge of the local hospital described how the bombing was "a major disaster of battlefield proportions".

Dominic Pinto told the coroner, John Leckey, that about 240 people arrived at the hospital within 45 minutes of the bombing.

"The scale of the disaster was unprecedented in the history of 30 years of troubles in Northern Ireland," he said.

The inquest was told of victims being killed almost instantly when the 500lb car bomb ripped through Market Street in the middle of crowds evacuated from another part of the town centre.

Relatives of the dead stayed away from yesterday's hearings as a group, leaving individual families to hear the painful details of their loved ones' final moments in relative privacy.

Giving evidence into the death of Gareth Conway, 18, the Northern Ireland Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Derek Carson, said: "In this case and the majority of the cases, medical treatment would have made no difference."

Gareth, who lived with his family in Carrickmore, Co Tyrone, was a student who was working for Omagh Meats for the month before his death.

The teenager's mother, Marie, told the court she last saw her son an hour before the lethal blast during a shopping expedition in the town.

Dr Carson said a head injury must have caused immediate unconsciousness from which Gareth would never have recovered. He believed the teenager would not have felt any pain or distress.

The inquest report on Esther Gibson, 36, heard that her death - caused by a shrapnel wound to the back of the head - was "instantaneous for all intents and purposes".

Another victim, John Joseph McGrath, 61, died three weeks after the blast in hospital without regaining consciousness. He died from the effects of lung and brain injuries and kidney failure caused by shrapnel wounds.

Another victim, Julia Hughes, 21, was standing chatting to two people at the bottom of Market Street when the bomb went off, causing a range of shrapnel wounds that would have caused her "rapid but not immediate death", the inquest was told.

A Spanish boy, Fernando Blasco Baselga, 12, was killed by a piece of flying debris that would have caused minor injuries had it hit any other part of his body other than his neck, the inquest was told.

Fernando and Rocio Abad Ramos, 23, a second Spanish citizen to die, were among a party of 33 from the country spending part of the summer learning English at Buncrana, Co Donegal, in the Irish Republic.

Miss Abad Ramos, of Madrid, one of the Spanish youth leaders, was likely to have died immediately in the blast from a broken neck after being flung down on to her face, the inquest was told.

The inquest was adjourned until today.

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