An investigation is under way after a man and his two daughters were found dead in the village of Ballycotton in Co Cork.

They have been named as John Butler, seven-year-old Zoe and two-year-old Ella.

Mr Butler, who was in his 40s, died when his car crashed into a tree and burst into flames on the bog road just over 2km outside Ballycotton at 9.45am.

The emergency services attended the crash scene but the man was declared dead.

Gardaí were then alerted when concerns were raised that one of Mr Butler's daughters had not turned up for school this morning.

They went to the man's home and discovered the bodies of his two daughters in the house.

A doctor and a priest were called and the doctor declared both girls dead. It is not yet known how Zoe and Ella died.

It is understood that the children's mother left for work in Cork city at around 7.30am.

The house has been sealed off and is being treated as a crime scene. A forensic and technical examination will take place at the house.

The girls' bodies have been removed to Cork University Hospital for post mortems.

The area at the bog road where Mr Butler died in the crash has also been sealed off and a technical examination will also be carried out.

His body has also been taken to Cork University Hospital.

It is understood that gardaí travelled to Cork city to inform the children's mother of what happened.

Principal of the local national school Derry Keogh issued a statement on behalf of the board of management, staff and pupils expressing their deep shock and sadness.

'We learned this morning of the death of one of our pupils and other family members,' Mr Keogh said.

'This is a terrible tragedy for the family, the school and our community. We are deeply saddened by these events.

'Our sympathy and thoughts are with the family and friends at this terrible time.'

Mr Keogh said the school's six teachers were focused on the 98 pupils at the school and helping them cope with the loss of a young friend and a younger sibling.

'We will help the children to the best of our ability,' the principal said.

'To allow the staff to focus on the children we appeal for privacy and will make no further comment at this time.'

The school remained open during the day and will continue to stay open over the coming days to support parents and offer them advice and guidance.

The school requested the support of the National Education Psychological Service and has also put in place a critical incident management plan.