Ophelia: Hazard warning after worst storm on record that killed three

A fallen tree blocks a street off the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast
A fallen tree blocks a street off the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast

Three people are dead and hundreds of thousands still without power following the worst storm in recorded history across the Republic of Ireland an Northern Ireland.

The storm force winds were expected to have cleared the coast by midnight, but people have been warned to remain cautious in the aftermath of the extreme weather.

The scene on the Albertbridge in east Belfast after the front of a building collapsed as Storm Ophelia battered the city.

The scene on the Albertbridge in east Belfast after the front of a building collapsed as Storm Ophelia battered the city.

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 many areas went into lockdown.

Violent winds of more than 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.

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

Strong winds hit Donaghadee on the Co. Down coast as Storm Ophelia spread.

Strong winds hit Donaghadee on the Co. Down coast as Storm Ophelia spread.

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 a 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 the Rosslare Harbour lifeboat.

The storm has caused major disruption to power supplies and 330,000 homes and businesses were 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.

Officials have warned that repairs will take several days. Some areas were also hit by shortages to water supplies.

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

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.

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.

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