Belfast Telegraph

Three dead as worst storm on record ravages island of Ireland

Three people are dead and hundreds of thousands still without power following the worst storm in recorded history on the island of Ireland.

Violent winds of over 96mph (156kph) in places caused widespread damage to electricity networks, uprooting trees and damaging properties.

Two men and a woman were killed in separate incidents in the Republic of Ireland.

One man was killed in Ravensdale, Dundalk, when a car he was in was struck by a tree at around 2.45pm, gardai said.

In Cahir, Co Tipperary, a man in his 30s was killed in a chainsaw accident when he was trying to clear a tree downed by the wind.

Earlier, a woman died when a tree fell on her car in severe wind.

The Garda said the driver was in her mid 50s and was travelling outside Aglish village in Co Waterford.

A female passenger, in her 70s, was injured and taken to Waterford Regional Hospital for treatment, gardai said. Her injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Off the coast of Rosslare volunteer lifeboat crew rescued three men on a yacht after they got into trouble in the storm.

The men had been trying to get to safety in a harbour but were constantly pushed back by wind and tides.

They issued a mayday 10 miles offshore and were rescued by Rosslare Harbour lifeboat.

The storm force force winds are expected to have cleared Ireland's coast by midnight, but people have been warned to remain cautious in the aftermath of the extreme weather. Fallen trees blocking roads and downed power lines are some of the likely hazards on Tuesday as the country returns to normal following a day when the island of Ireland went into lockdown.

The storm has caused major disruption to power supplies, with 330,000 homes and businesses still without power on Monday night.

Help from Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is expected to be drafted in on Wednesday to help restore power, ESB, the Republic of Ireland's electricity network, said.

It has been warned that repairs will take several days. Some areas were also hit by shortages to water supplies.

There were reports of localised flooding in County Galway, and storm surges and severe winds were still predicted to pose a threat on the Dublin and Louth coasts until around 10.30pm on Monday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said additional funding will be made available to assist in the clean-up, and work is under way to assess the damage.

"As is always the case in national emergencies like this, full resources and additional funding will be available," he said.

More than 18,000 homes and businesses were without electricity in Northern Ireland at 5pm on Monday.

NIE has issued a warning that winds continue to cause damage to the electricity network, with trees, branches and other flying debris bringing down power lines and poles.

Earlier in the day the storm forced former US president Bill Clinton to postpone a planned intervention in Northern Ireland's political stalemate.

The Press Association understands Mr Clinton had been due in the region to meet the region's warring political parties as they struggle to reach a deal to restore the collapsed Executive.

But the visit was called off at late notice due to the severe weather. It is understood the visit may still take place on Tuesday.

With the full extent of the storm damage still unknown, authorities in the Republic and Northern Ireland have said schools should remain closed for a second day to ensure the safety of children and staff.

Met Eireann issued a status red weather warning across all of the Irish Republic.

It described the storm as the most powerful to have been this far east in the Atlantic.

The Met Office issued an amber weather warning for Northern Ireland and warned of "potential danger to life".

The differing severity of alerts north and south of the border is due to differences in the way Met Eireann and the Met Office rate threats, rather than an indication that Northern Ireland would not be hit as hard.

As the storm moved towards Northern Ireland the Peace Bridge in Londonderry was closed as a precautionary measure.

At 3pm workers from the Department for Infrastructure sealed off the footbridge with tape and sandbags.

Derry & Strabane Council announced that from the same time, all council facilities would cease to operate for the day including leisure centres, parks and open spaces in the area.

Many businesses in Derry city centre were closed throughout the day, following advice from authorities that people should stay at home and avoid any unnecessary journeys in anticipation of Ophelia's arrival.

In Dublin, as strong winds swept in, roads were quiet, clear of the usual weekday traffic, as many shops and businesses remained shut.

It was anticipated one of the runways at the capital's airport may become inoperable on Tuesday night due to a change in wind direction, leading to possible diversions.

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