UK

Storm Ophelia: Latest Updates As Ex-Hurricane Batters Ireland And UK

The storm is wreaking havoc across the British Isles.

16/10/2017 13:45 BST | Updated 16/10/2017 20:23 BST

Summary:

  • Storm Ophelia has claimed the lives of three people so far
  • A man and a woman were killed in two separate incidents when trees fell on cars
  • Another man died in a chainsaw accident while trying to remove a fallen tree
  • Red alert issued for Republic of Ireland
  • Amber warnings issued for Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland, England and Wales
  • 230,000 homes left without power
  • Schools set to remain closed across Ireland and Northern Ireland tomorrow after shutting today
  • Schools in Wales also sent pupils home as a ‘precautionary measure’

The death count of Storm Ophelia - one of the most serious storms to hit the British Isles in decades - has risen to three as the Republic of Ireland is thrashed by destructive winds and heavy downpours. 

Two men and a woman were killed in three separate incidents across the country, Gardaí police said. 

While one man died this afternoon when a tree fell onto a car in Ravensdale, a woman in her 50s was killed in a similar incident when driving close to the village of Aglish in Waterford at around 11.40am. 

Another man a man in his 30s died in a chainsaw accident in County Tipperary while trying to remove a tree downed by the high winds, officers confirmed. 

The fatalities came as the Met Office warned that the conditions represent a “danger to life” in Ireland, with winds reaching up to 191km/hour at Fastnet Rock near County Cork earlier today.  

While coastal defences were completely breached in some areas, armed forces were dispatched to bolster other flood defences. 

Police urged people to remain indoors for their own safety, as did Irish PM Leo Varadkar, who described the situation as a “national emergency”. 

The tree-ripping winds in the country have been so powerful, roofs have been ripped off.

Cork’s Turners Cross Stadium roof collapsed and the ceiling of a community school gym was filmed flying through the air.

Around 360,000 people across Ireland have been left without power, with ESB Networks warning that it could be up to 10 days before some customers have electricity again. 

A further 18,000 people in Northern Ireland and thousands of homes in Wales have also been hit by power cuts, with amber weather warnings in place in the two countries and parts of Scotland until 11pm.  

As the storm moved towards Wales and Scotland, police warned locals not to head to the coast to take selfies, urging them to think of “those who would be called to rescue you”. 

Schools in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland were closed today and will remain closed again tomorrow “in the interests of child safety”. 

Some schools in Wales also decided to send children home due to the adverse weather conditions. 

The storm has also caused wide-spread travel disruption across the UK. 

Cork Airport told passengers that there will be no more departures today and urged customers to check with airlines regarding what flights, if any, will return to airport tonight.

Belfast International Airport said the storm was having an impact, with both Ryanair and easyJet cancelling flights. The airport is expecting more cancellations. Anyone due to travel has been advised to contact their airline.

Meanwhile, a number of flights to UK airports were diverted after “smoke smells” were reported on board in incidents thought to be linked to the storm. 

Four EasyJet flights flying in the west of the UK today reported the scent of smoke in the cockpit, with a spokesperson for the carrier saying it was believed to be linked to “atmospheric circumstances due to storm Ophelia”. 

“Two flights returned shortly after take-off and two flights requested an expedited landing as a precaution only,” they told the Press Association

“The safety and welfare of our passengers and crew is easyJet’s highest priority. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience experienced by the diversions.”

There were also reports of people across the UK seeing a “red Sun” as Ophelia dragged Ophelia dragged tropical air and dust over from the Sahara. 

Meanwhile in Wales, sea foam whipped up by intense storm winds made it appear as if it had been snowing in October. 

Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
Storm winds made it appear as if it had been snowing in Wales today 
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
The intense winds brought by the remnants of Hurricane Ophelia whipped up sea foam 
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
The promenade at Trearddur Bay today