Thousands without power in the North after gales rip down power lines
THOUSANDS of homes are still without power in Northern Ireland after gale force winds ripped down trees, power lines and electricity poles.
Gusts of up to 70mph which swept in from the Atlantic have left parts of the north, east and exposed rural areas facing major blackouts.
Energy company NIE said the damage was caused by flying debris and high winds and its latest figures estimate that around 7,000 properties are currently without electricity.
Specialist incident centres have been set up while additional emergency crews and engineers have been drafted in to resolve the 200 faults on the network.
An NIE spokeswoman said: "Damage has been caused by flying debris and high winds, including broken electricity lines and damage to poles and other equipment."
More than 15,000 homes had power supplies restored overnight.
The spokeswoman added: "There may also be further faults which have not yet been reported to Northern Ireland Electricity and adverse weather conditions, which could cause additional faults, are due to continue for the next few hours."
A number of ferry crossings were also expected to be disrupted including the P&O Larne to Cairnryan service. The company has advised customers to check the helpline before setting off on their journey.
All sailings between Ballycastle and Rathlin off the Co Antrim coast were cancelled for the day.
Translink, which operates the public transport network, said train services to Londonderry and Larne had been impacted by the bad weather with some passengers having to travel by bus because of debris on the railway lines.
Meanwhile, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has urged motorists to drive with extreme caution as a result of the adverse weather conditions.
The Crawfordsburn and Rathgael Roads in Bangor were closed because of fallen trees as were the Spa Road, Ballynahinch, Mearne Road, Downpatrick and Castleward Road, Downpatrick.
In Belfast, morning rush hour traffic faced further congestion because the Antrim Road was blocked by a fallen tree at Kincraig Park. The Ormeau Embankment in the south of the city was only passable with care.
In Derry, high winds forced the closure of the Foyle Bridge but it has since re-opened.
The main Coleraine to Limavady Road was also shut due to fallen trees while in Co Tyrone the Sweep Road in Cookstown was shut due to an unsafe roof on a building.
Two people have been killed as fierce winds battered in Britain.
A man died after he was struck by a falling tree in a park in Retford, Nottinghamshire and a lorry driver was killed when his HGV toppled on to a number of cars in West Lothian, Scotland.
The powerful storm has also led to the evacuation of thousands of families living on the east coast.
More than 10,000 homes in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex are being evacuated after officials warned that the lives of people in the region could be at risk from the worst coastal tidal surge for over 60 years.
The Environment Agency (EA) has issued a number of severe flood warnings - the highest category, which are only issued when flooding poses a danger to life - to the east coast and north Wales as high tides and strong winds threatened to swamp the coastline.
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