The group were just hours away from the town of Malayta and were stopping off in Istanbul when the earthquake hit.

The school has reassured parents that all staff and students on the trip are safe and well, saying: "The earthquake has struck their destination of Malayta but, thankfully, they had stopped in Istanbul and had not reached their (partner) school yet."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost their lives and homes."

"(There has been) very sad news from our partner school in Malayta - a text from their students (reads) 'This place has officially disappeared - many people have died. The number is increasing constantly.' Our students were due to go there today - thankfully they are all safe in Istanbul."

School principal Aaron Wolfe said: "Our students have now been contacting their [Turkish] students and the picture coming through is that the town has virtually disappeared.

"There are lots of disappeared, lots of fatalities and lots of injured. It is really, really bad there."

The group is now expected to spend some days in Istanbul, before flying home to Ireland.