Belfast Telegraph

Hurricane Katia winds pound Ireland's coast

Ireland has battened down the hatches amid fears Hurricane Katia would wreak widespread havoc with storm-force winds and giant waves.

Fears of gale-force winds lashing the country forced the cancellation of ferry services and the postponement of a lavish outdoor theatre display, with motorists warned to beware of falling trees, building damage and flooding.

Forecasters Met Eireann issued an extreme weather warning amid predictions of storm gusts of up to 130kmph battering the west and north west coast, with peak winds of 115kmph sweeping across the rest of the country.

The tail end of Hurricane Katia -- which was classified a category four hurricane as it hit the US coastline -- will continue its path up from the Caribbean and cross Ireland, before moving up towards the northern tip of Scotland.

The Irish Coast Guard last night warned people to avoid boating, swimming at sea, wave-watching or rock-climbing near the coast or in exposed areas amid fears of fatalities.

High waves were expected to strike the west, north-west and north coasts overnight and today with waves of up to 10-metres.

Irish Ferries cancelled a number of Swift ferry sailings between Dublin and Holyhead, with passengers instead travelling on the heavier Ulysses ship. Fastnet cancelled sailings between Cork and Swansea.

AA Roadwatch urged drivers to take extreme care in coastal areas along the west coast and on exposed roads. Truck drivers were also warned to be aware of gusts catching high-sided vehicles.

Organisers of the Absolute Fringe theatre and comedy festival cancelled an open air spectacle from Macnas due to health and safety fears over the weekend.

One of the organisers of the festival, which features 95 events over 40 locations in Dublin until September 25, said the show at Collins Barracks had been cancelled due to "extreme wind conditions for health and safety reasons".

"Three thousand people were coming to it. It was a difficult decision and a lot of people were disappointed.

"We hope to stage it towards the end of the festival," a spokeman said.

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