A school car park would have been the scene of a horrific tragedy if the schoolchildren had been allowed to leave class as scheduled.

Parents had been waiting to collect their children outside Cregmore primary school in Co Galway, when a large articulated truck smashed into a dozen cars.

Fortunately, only five people received minor injuries.

The truck crashed into a car at 1.40 p.m. and jack knifed, and it hit a further 11 cars before crashing through a school wall.

It transpired that the students were kept back in class to say a prayer in favor for an impending planning decision for a new school hall.

Local parish priest, Fr. Des Walshe. led the students in prayer.

Joe Kennelly, Principal of Cregmore's primary school, he said the prayer saved the lives of some of his pupils.

"I’m not overly religious, but I certainly believe that prayer saved us here,' said Kennelly.

"Never in my life have I seen anything like this. It was carnage, like a scene from Beirut and yes, it was that bad."

The injured included a parent, grandparent and a neighbor who was collecting a friend's child and two other children.