Huge recovery operation under way in aftermath of Ophelia

Roadworks under way
Roadworks under way

A huge recovery operation is under way in Ireland following one of the most powerful storms in recorded history on the island.

Three people were killed as ex-hurricane Ophelia battered the country and people have been warned to remain cautious in the aftermath of the severe winds.

Out walking in storm Ophelia

Out walking in storm Ophelia

Fallen trees blocking roads and downed power lines are some of the likely hazards on Tuesday as the country begins to return to normal following a day when the island went into lockdown.

Violent winds, which peaked at 119mph (191kph), caused widespread damage to electricity networks, uprooting trees and damaging properties.

Father-of-two Fintan Goss, 33, was killed in Ravensdale, Dundalk, when a car he was in was struck by a tree.

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

Earlier, a woman driver in her 50s died when a tree fell on her car in strong winds near Aglish village in Co Waterford.

The Irish Independent reported she was former oncology nurse Clare O'Neill, who was due to celebrate her 59th birthday on Tuesday.

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

Residents were evacuated from apartments in Rodgers Quay, Carrickfergus due to a risk of flooding from tidal surges but have since been allowed to return to their homes.

The storm has caused major disruption to power supplies and 245,000 homes and businesses were still without power on Tuesday.

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.

Crews are already working to fix power lines but officials have warned that repairs will take several days, up to 10 in the worst-hit areas.

Thousands of people remain without internet and telephone services after lines were downed.

Some areas were also hit by shortages to water supplies.

A spokesman for the HSE said there had been a significant impact on health services, and warned of disruption in the "coming days" with some cancellations and delays expected to appointments and discharges from hospital.

Patients have been advised to avoid going to hospital or their GP surgery unless it is an emergency.

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.

About 4,000 homes and businesses, mainly in counties Down, Armagh and Antrim, are still without electricity in Northern Ireland, NIE said.

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.

Mr Goss was returning from work and was just 10 minutes from home when the accident occurred, local councillor John McGahon said.

The Louth county councillor described Mr Goss, who he said became a father for the second time in recent weeks, and his family as "extremely well regarded in the community".

He added: "He will be greatly missed by his friends, family and the local community in Ravensdale.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this terrible time."