Severe winds and flooding cause bank holiday havoc


A DAY and night of severe winds and rain have left flooding and storm damage in many parts of the country. However, the worst of the weather is expected to have passed by this morning.

In the only known fatalities caused by the storm, two people died in a car crash in Carlow yesterday, apparently after the driver lost control of the vehicle in high winds. The victims were both in the back seat of the car which gardai believe was blown onto its side before falling into a ditch.

The driver and front seat passenger were both injured in the accident, which happened near Ballon at around 4.30 a.m.

In another incident, a 750 tonne crane keeled over at the Bell Lines shipping terminal in Waterford hitting and badly damaging a second crane. Neither was operating at the time and there were no injuries.

A man was taken to hospital last night after a tree fell on a car in Donabate, Co Dublin. He was not seriously injured.

In Blarney, Co Cork, the fire brigade had to extract a young couple from a car after it was hit by a tree. Two other cars were wrecked by falling trees in separate incidents in Cork city. On the city outskirts, repair work had to be done on a fallen ESB line - carrying an estimated 110,000 volts.

Fallen trees blocked many roads across the country as the weather caused havoc with the post bank holiday weekend traffic. The Automobile Association reported a seven mile tailback between Kildare and Monasterevin yesterday evening, and a three mile tailback on the Dublin to Galway road at Kinnegad.

The Cork to Killarney road was closed, with diversions through Rathmore and Millstreet, after part of the road caved in under the storm. Many other roads in Co Cork were impassable because of flooding, with large amounts of fallen debris reported around Macroom and Kinsale.

The Sligo to Donegal road was also said to be hazardous.

Ferry services are expected to return to normal later today but last night's Stena services from Dun Laoghaire and Rosslare were cancelled and this morning's sailings were in doubt.

Irish Ferries also cancelled its Rosslare to Pembroke sailing but a spokesman said it was hoped that the Rosslare Le Havre ferry - delayed since Sunday night - would sail last night.

While the centre of the storm moved across south Leinster and into the Irish Sea during the afternoon and evening, the winds spiralling around it made themselves felt in all parts. Met Eireann said winds of 80 mph were recorded in Belmullet, Co Mayo.

The Marine Rescue Service said it had dealt with numerous calls about boats in trouble. Most of these were craft which had come loose from their moorings and there were no cases in which lives were at risk.

The onset of winter weather has already claimed the lives of at least four people in Britain, a man and a woman in west Yorkshire and two anglers in separate tragedies in south Wales.