Tributes paid to woman who died after caravan blown off cliff during Storm Ali

A man looks at debris at the scene in Claddaghduff, near Clifden in Co Galway where a woman died after her caravan was blown off a cliff in Storm Ali which has brought gusts of 91mph. : Niall Carson/PA Wire
A man looks at debris at the scene in Claddaghduff, near Clifden in Co Galway where a woman died after her caravan was blown off a cliff in Storm Ali which has brought gusts of 91mph. : Niall Carson/PA Wire

Tributes have been paid to the woman who died after the caravan she was in was blown off a cliff during Storm Ali, which is battering Ireland and parts of the UK.

The first named storm of the season brought high winds to the west of Ireland where the caravan was blown onto a beach at Claddaghduff, near Clifden in Co Galway, on Wednesday morning.

The scene in Claddaghduff, near Clifden in Co Galway where a woman died after her caravan was blown off a cliff in Storm Ali : Niall Carson/PA Wire

The scene in Claddaghduff, near Clifden in Co Galway where a woman died after her caravan was blown off a cliff in Storm Ali : Niall Carson/PA Wire

Irish police said the body of a woman in her fifties was found after a search on the beach.

The dwelling is understood to have been blown onto a stretch of coastline and was not submerged in water.

Irish President Michael D Higgins was among those who expressed condolences to the woman who died.

"I was deeply saddened to learn that Storm Ali has already claimed one victim today in Claddaghduff, Co Galway," he said.

The scene in Claddaghduff, near Clifden in Co Galway : Niall Carson/PA Wire

The scene in Claddaghduff, near Clifden in Co Galway : Niall Carson/PA Wire

"As President of Ireland, may I express my deepest condolences to her family.

"I would also take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those, in statutory and voluntary organisations around the country, who are helping and stand ready to assist their fellow citizens, and who are working to maintain essential services around the country."

Ireland's Minister for Employment Regina Doherty also offered her condolences to the family of the dead woman.

Speaking in the Irish parliament on Wednesday, Ms Doherty said: "Can I on behalf of everyone in the House, including the Government, offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the lady who passed away this morning due to the adverse weather conditions in Galway."

Footage of the scene shows the caravan broken up into several pieces as the tide threatens to wash it out to sea.

More than 250,000 homes and businesses across the island of Ireland are without power as a result of Storm Ali.

Ireland's electricity network, ESB Networks said that 186,000 homes, businesses and farms have been left without power, with the most impacted in Cavan, Sligo, Donegal, Castlebar and Galway.

In Northern Ireland, approximately 65,000 homes and businesses are without power as gusts of 70mph continue to cause significant damage.

The storm has also led to the cancellation of the second day of a major agricultural show in Ireland.

The National Ploughing Championships, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year, was cancelled following damage caused by the severe weather.

Storm Ali continues to wreak havoc across Ireland and has led to delays in a number of services including postal services throughout the north and north-west of the country.

Heavy winds and subsequent storm damage led to disruptions in more than 60 post offices while mail deliveries across a wide area of the north and north-west were temporarily disrupted during the height of the storm.

Irish forecaster Met Eireann said the strongest gusts in the hour leading up to 10am reached speeds of 120km/h (74.5mph) at Mace Head in County Galway, 98km/h (60.9mph) at Dublin Airport and 107km/h (66.5mph) at Shannon.

The Met Office said gusts of 91mph hit Killowen in County Down, 77mph winds were recorded in Kirkcudbrightshire in Scotland, 74mph gusts hit Capel Curig in Wales and 68mph was recorded in St Bees Head, Cumbria, England.

As Ali rolled in on Wednesday morning the Met Office updated its amber weather warning of wind, saying there is a high likelihood of impacts across a swathe of the UK.

Travel disruption, power cuts and flying debris are possible as the storm sweeps through, with severe gales and heavy rain forecast for a large part of the UK.

The weather alert, which is in place until Wednesday evening, warns that flying debris is likely and could lead to injuries or danger to life.

There is also potential for damage to buildings, fallen trees, travel cancellations, road closures and large waves in coastal areas.

A less severe yellow warning for wind is in place until Wednesday night.

Traffic Scotland said the Forth Road Bridge is closed to all vehicles and pedestrians.

ScotRail said the storm was causing disruption to services, tweeting: "We've got a tree blocking tracks at #DumbartonCentral which has damaged

overhead wires, and also reports of overhead wire damage at #Partick.

"We'll provide an update as soon as we can."

Dublin Airport said the storm would have an impact on its schedule and warned of cancellations.

Gale-force gusts began to be recorded on the Galway coast as heavy rain moved in.

Forecasters in Ireland issued a Status Orange wind warning for more than half the country due to the storm.

Photos posted on social media showed trees down in Galway, while Dublin Fire Brigade posted about falling trees damaging cars, with one photo showing a smashed windscreen.

The worst of Ali's weather is forecast to be in the north, although areas outside the official weather warnings are unlikely to escape wet and windy conditions.

While southern parts of England and Wales could reach continued unseasonable highs of up to 24C (75F), it will feel cooler due to the strong winds, Met Office meteorologist Mark Wilson said.

The unsettled weather is due to last right through the week, but an improvement is expected early next week as drier weather is set to take hold.

Ali is first on the storm names list for 2018-19 announced by the Met Office and Met Eireann, which has run the Name Our Storms scheme for four years.

The season's names have been compiled from a list of submissions by the public, choosing some of the most popular names and also selecting those which reflect the nations, culture and diversity of the UK and Ireland.