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One killed, four hurt as storms hit


NIE emergency crews repairing the electricity network near Ballyclare (Northern Ireland Electricity/PA)

NIE emergency crews repairing the electricity network near Ballyclare (Northern Ireland Electricity/PA)

NIE emergency crews repairing the electricity network near Ballyclare (Northern Ireland Electricity/PA)

One man has been killed and four others hospitalised as a result of storms which have battered parts of Northern Ireland.

The van driver died when a tree fell on top his vehicle at about 11.30am close to Lisburn in Co Antrim, police have said.

Gales of up to 70 miles-an-hour have battered parts of Northern Ireland throughout much of the day, tearing down trees as well as electricity power lines and poles.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) inspector Stephen Burns said: "The man died following a tree falling on his van."

Elsewhere, a three-year-old child and a 75-year-old woman were among three people hurt when a pallet was blown from a lorry in east Belfast, while in the city centre gale-force winds swept two teenage girls into the path of a bus.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) said crews had experienced a "busy day with weather-related calls" and warned that the hazardous driving conditions were impacting on response times.

John McPoland, an NIAS spokesman, said: "Our crews are also reporting difficult driving conditions with a number of fallen trees blocking roads.

"NIAS would ask people to remain vigilant when out on the road and be patient while awaiting an ambulance which will arrive as soon as possible."

The schoolgirls were walking along High Street in Belfast when they were swept off their feet by gale-force winds just after 11am.

They were treated at the scene by paramedics and their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

It is understood the bus driver may not have been aware of the collision.

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said: "At this time, it is believed that two teenage girls were blown by the wind and collided with a passing bus in the High Street area of Belfast at approximately 11.15am.

"The two girls have been taken to hospital for treatment but it is not believed that their injuries are serious."

At the peak of the storm, some 7,000 homes and businesses were left without power after high winds and heavy rain brought down power lines and split electricity poles.

The worst affected areas were Counties Tyrone and Armagh where some 3,500 remained without power.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said engineers and emergency crews were working in atrocious conditions to try and restore supplies.

A statement said: "Damage has been caused by flying debris and high winds, including broken electricity lines and damage to poles and other equipment.

"There may also be further faults which have not yet been reported to Northern Ireland Electricity, and adverse weather conditions - which could cause additional faults - are due to continue for the next few hours."

The high winds have also hampered travel, with a significant number of roads blocked by fallen trees and the Foyle bridge in Derry shut to traffic.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has warned motorists to proceed with additional caution.

A number of ferry sailings between Northern Ireland, Scotland and Liverpool have been suspended.

The adverse conditions have also impacted on the daily Rathlin island to Ballycastle service in Co Antrim.