A major disaster was narrowly avoided after the door of an Air Corps helicopter fell off mid-flight and landed in the grounds of a Dublin school.
It is understood a number of people who were in the grounds of Moyle Park College secondary school in Clondalkin had a lucky escape when the door landed on a green area near them yesterday evening.
There were no reported injuries. Onlookers were left in shock and children screamed in horror after the metal door plummeted into a green area.
The school grounds in the centre of Clondalkin Village have been busy after being opened up to the public for exercise during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Local Green Party councillor Peter Kavanagh said it was a miracle nobody was hurt.
"It's absolutely shocking," he said. "The school gates have been left open during lockdown and people had been using it to get a bit of exercise so it could have been incredibly dangerous.
"During the day the gates are open and people walk in there and the pitches are open."
Mr Kavanagh said he can't understand how the door could fall off a helicopter the way it did. The councillor added that it was incredibly lucky that the door landed where it did.
The park, he said, is right in the middle of Clondalkin village and had the large door fallen on either side of the school grounds, or while the school was open, people could have been killed.
"Moyle Park is right in the heart of the village so if this had happened 100m either side, it could have fallen on the street or into the car park or shops, anywhere," he said.
"We are really, really lucky that it didn't hurt anyone and that it landed in an area where no one was at the time.
"If the school had been open this could easily been fatal.
"We can be really, really thankful that no one was hurt.
"I have no idea how the door could fall off a helicopter but at the end of the day, Clondalkin is a really heavily populated area and this fell bang smack in the middle of the village.
"Someone easily could have died."
The helicopter had just completed an air ambulance journey to Tallaght Hospital and was returning to Casement Aerodrome to refuel.
During the return flight, the door came loose and plummeted several hundred feet to the ground.
A local source told Herald: "The door just fell from the sky and thankfully nobody was hit by it or you'd be looking at a fatality."
The helicopter later managed to land safely and the aircrew were uninjured.
An internal investigation within the Air Corps will now be carried out to establish how the accident happened.
The Defence Forces said in a statement: "At approximately 5.52pm, the rear door of an Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) helicopter detached while returning to Casement Aerodrome and landed in Moyle Park, Clondalkin.
"Nobody on the ground, or in the air, was injured in the incident.
"The area in which the door fell was secured by Defence Forces personnel and An Garda Siochana within five minutes of the incident and an investigation team were on scene within 30 minutes.
"Once the area has been analysed, the door will be removed and transported to Baldonnel. The EAS service will recommence tomorrow, as normal, with a replacement aircraft and crew.
"A full investigation will be conducted into the cause of this incident."
A garda spokesperson said officers were alerted to an item falling from the sky.
"A number of witnesses contacted gardai in Clondalkin to confirm a large item landed in the grounds of Moyle Park College," they said.
"No persons were injured. Investigations are ongoing."
A spokesman for Defence Minister Paul Kehoe said he had been fully briefed on the incident and the matter was being investigated.