Belfast Telegraph

Storm Ophelia leaves thousands without power and water supply, disrupts travel

Storm Ophelia has caused further disruption after three people died in hurricane-force winds and hundreds of thousands were left without power.

Ireland and Northern Ireland bore the brunt of the storm as it battered the island and Great Britain, with more than 170,000 homes and businesses still without power in the Republic on Tuesday.

Scotland was braced for gusts of up to 70mph and flood warnings were in place on its west coast as the remnants of the hurricane hit the country and northern England.

Commuters were hit by delays caused by the weather, with several rail lines blocked by fallen trees and other problems.

Train services were temporarily hit between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and from the capital to Aberdeen, Dundee and Perth, as trees were blown on to tracks.

In Glasgow part of a derelict block of flats already earmarked for partial demolition collapsed at about 4am, and a scout hall roof was blown off in Dumfries and Galloway as the region took the brunt of winds up to 77mph.

In Cumbria the county council said high winds had torn the roof from a house in Whitehaven and even torn traffic lights from their poles, as well as causing traffic disruption.

Part of the roof of a stand at National League team Barrow AFC was also ripped off by the wind.

Ireland experienced the worst of the weather on Monday, with winds of almost 100mph damaging electricity networks and causing widespread disruption.

Wind speeds reached 97mph (156kph) in County Cork, while the UK's strongest gales reached 90mph (145kph) in Gwynedd, north Wales, the Met Office said.

About 170,000 Irish customers were still without power on Tuesday afternoon, with the worst damage in the southern part of the Republic.

Around 69,000 people meanwhile remained without water.

Households in the worst affected areas from Wexford to Skibbereen in Co Cork have been asked to conserve their water supply as far as possible while repair work continues as reservoirs are re-filled.

Irish Defence Force soldiers have been deployed with vehicles and helicopters to help assess damage as thousands of staff from ESB, the Republic of Ireland's electricity network, worked to fix fallen and broken cables.

Crews from Northern Ireland will join efforts on Tuesday while others from Scotland and France are expected to be drafted in to help from Wednesday.

Schools on both sides of the Irish border remained closed for a second day as authorities began to assess the damage, but most are expected to open on Wednesday.

Fintan Goss, 33, died in Ravensdale, Dundalk, when a car he was in was hit by a tree at about 2.45pm, gardai said.

Mr Goss, who had become a father for the second time just weeks ago, was returning home from work and was just 10 minutes from home when the accident happened, Louth county councillor John McGahon said.

In Cahir, Co Tipperary, 31-year-old Michael Pyke was killed in a chainsaw accident when he was trying to clear a tree downed by the wind.

His death came after former oncology nurse Clare O'Neill, 58, died when a tree fell on her car in strong winds near Aglish village in Co Waterford.

Ireland's national emergency co-ordination group was meeting in Dublin on Tuesday to assess the extent of the damage.

Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to her Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar on Monday afternoon to offer support.

A clear-up operation is also under way in Northern Ireland, where around 1,700 homes and businesses are still experiencing disrupted electricity supplies, with the worst affected parts across counties Down, Armagh and Antrim.

The UK Met Office has reduced the area covered by a yellow weather warning, but has still said a spell of "very windy weather is likely".

The warning now covers south-west Scotland, parts of north-east England and Yorkshire.

Its forecast said: "Some damage to buildings, such as tiles blown from roofs, could happen."

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