Five people have been killed and 17 injured in an accident involving two buses in the centre of Dublin this afternoon.

It is understood the three women and two men who died were standing in a bus queue at Wellington Quay, near the Clarence hotel.

A bus is said to have collided with another bus, mounted the pavement and crashed into a group of people at about 1.25pm. There were no passengers on board. The area was sealed off but has since been re-opened to traffic. Two separate investigations are underway.

Twelve of the injured are said to be in a serious but not critical condition and are being treated in a number of Dublin hospitals.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, visited the scene of the accident and offered his sincerest sympathies to the families of those who died.

President McAleese has expressed her shock and said her thoughts and prayers were with the families of those so tragically killed and with the injured.

The Minister for Transport, Seamus Brennan, has also visited the scene and said a full investigation into the cause of accident was underway.

The gardaí have set up an incident room at Pearse Street Station and are calling on witnesses to the accident to come forward.