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Sunday 21 January 2018

Wind and rain storms wreak havoc

Gale force winds and heavy downpours have battered the west of the UK, leaving thousands without power and disrupting football matches, roads and railways.

Gusts of up to 90mph were expected to batter Northern Ireland and north-west Scotland throughout the night, with torrential weather also making its way down the backbone of England.

Caused by an Atlantic depression, the storms left 7,000 electricity customers without power in Northern Ireland, with another 3,500 affected in north-west England.

Nearly 900 homes also lost electricity in the Neath Valley in south Wales, after a high-voltage electrical cable was blown down at around 6pm.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) and Electricity North West said some users could be without power throughout the night, while Western Power was also working to restore to its customers.

NIE spokeswoman Julia Carson said: "We were prepared for the storm and have already restored over 5,000 customers to power since the winds swept across Northern Ireland this afternoon. However, we are expecting the winds to peak in the early hours of the morning, causing additional disruption to electricity supplies."

Thousands were affected in the Republic of Ireland, where a 23-year-old woman died when a tree feel on her car near Mullingar in Co Westmeath.

At 11.30pm the Environment Agency had 24 flood warnings in place in England and Wales, with flooding expected and immediate action required.

Warnings were concentrated across the South West, Wales and the North West.

There were also 116 flood alerts, with flooding possible and the public told to "be prepared" throughout the rest of the country.

Wednesday night football fixtures were hit, with a Sky Bet Championship football match in Sheffield abandoned when heavy rain left the pitch unplayable.

Sheffield Wednesday's home match against Wigan, at Hillsborough Stadium, was called off early in the second half after large puddles appeared on the playing surface.

Stoke City's home tie against Manchester United in the League Cup was temporarily suspended due to heavy rain and hailstones.

Referee Mark Clattenburg briefly pulled players off the Britannia Stadium's pitch, reaffirming Stoke's image as a tough place to visit on a wet and windy Wednesday night.

Play was resumed shortly afterwards and United went on to win the quarter-final 0-2.

Debris caused havoc as it was blown on to roads and railways, causing a man to be rushed to hospital with head and chest injuries after the car he was travelling in was hit.

The falling tree smashed the windscreen and left the front seat passenger, a 19-year-old man, with facial wounds, according to West Midlands Ambulance Service.

He was anaesthetised at the scene and taken to hospital.

Another passenger, a man in his 50s, and the male driver received minor injuries in the accident which happened at about 6pm on the A45, between Stretton-on-Dunsmore and Rugby, in Warwickshire.

An ambulance spokesman said: "The driver of the car was also taken to the same hospital as a precaution."

Police closed the A595 at Moota in Cumbria after the roof was blown off a hotel, with motorists asked to avoid the area.

A roof blew off another property in Seaton and disruption due to trees blocking roads was reported in Whitehaven and Hackthorpe.

There were also delays for train passengers across parts of the South West.

South West Trains reported problems due to trees on the track near Sherborne in Dorset and on a train between Exeter and Axeminster in Devon.

At 11pm NIE said 1,000 customers remained without power, but the network operator said it expected further damage and more power cuts throughout the night.

Press Association

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