Local Mayo people who came upon the scene where a distraught father Sanjeev Chada, 43, had crashed his car on a remote road near Westport, found the bodies of his two sons in the trunk of the car.

Police do not know when Eoghan (10) and Ruairi (5) were strangled by their father who fled his hometown in Carlow with the children after being linked to an embezzlement case involving $75,000 in local funds.

He left with the boys on Sunday evening saying he was going bowling with them but never returned. Their frantic mother Kathleen Chada alerted police and a nationwide amber alert, the first in Irish history was launched.

After the car crash, locals who tried to pull Chada from the wreckage were unable to for a time as he resisted.

They described a bizarre scene as Chada mumbled “it is too late” and tried to choke himself with a rope around his neck.

Chada told witnesses to his car crash: "The bodies are in the boot."

Chada is expected to be released from hospital today to face questioning from police.

A local witness described it as a "chilling and numbing experience".

Sean O'Malley, a retired school teacher told the Irish Independent how the boys were lying side by side in the trunk.

"There was no obvious injuries but I knew they had been dead for a while at that stage."

"There was clothes and children's things and a little car seat. I realised children had been in the car and asked another local man if anyone had got out. We opened the boot and saw the children."

Chada asked another local man who had stopped to help to use his cellphone he called his wife back in Carlow and she alerted police who were quickly on the scene.