Flights grounded and roads closed as Storm Frank lashes

Claire Simpson
30 December, 2015 01:00

ROADS were closed, ferries and flights were cancelled and homes were without electricity last night as storms lashed Ireland.

Heavy rain and gales of up to 70mph caused flooding, power cuts and brought down trees in parts of the north.

More than 6,000 homes, including 4,000 in Co Fermanagh alone, were without electricity due to high winds.

Power was later restored to around 1,300 homes in the Enniskillen area.

In the Republic, around 5,000 homes in counties Donegal, Mayo, Kerry, Cork, and the south-east were without power.

High winds and heavy rain led to extensive flooding in many parts of Athlone, Co Westmeath.

The Met Office warned heavy rain would fall across the north until at least 7am today, leading to flooding.

Flights were cancelled at both Belfast International and Belfast City airports last night. Two flights from Luton and Tenerife to the International airport were diverted to Dublin.

Passengers on board nine flights which landed at the International airport could not disembark for up to two hours because the steps could not be manoeuvred in high winds.

An airport spokesman said shortly before 10pm: "Airport staff and Swissport personnel are doing all they can to disembark passengers. We understand the frustration of passengers, and those waiting in Arrivals, but we must stress that the safety of passengers and our workers is our top priority and ask for their continuing patience".

Several ferries between Larne and Cairnryan were cancelled from yesterday afternoon.

The Strangford Ferry was also suspended.

Roads, including Dublin Road in Newry, were blocked due to fallen trees.

Drivers were warned not travel along the A2 from Newry to Kilkeel last night or the Antrim coast road due to high tides and strong winds.

Earlier, agriculture minister Michelle O’Neill said floods were expected on ground already saturated from earlier rain and land close to rivers.

Rivers Agency staff were checking river levels, clearing drains and checking sandbag stores last night.

"There is a risk that with strong winds forecast for overnight, wind-blown debris can block rivers and grilles," she said.

Ms O'Neill urged anyone who felt they were at risk of flooding to take precautions.

"Farmers will have housed the majority of their cattle but we would advise them to move any sheep that are still grazing on flood risk land to move them to higher ground," she said.

A spokesman for TransportNI said its engineers were monitoring roads at risk of flooding last night.

Motorists were told not to enter flood water that was moving or more than four inches deep, in case they and their car got swept away.

Pedestrians were also warned not to walk through floods and only travel if absolutely necessary.

- Any flooding can be reported to the Flooding Incident Line on 0300 2000 100

30 December, 2015 01:00 News

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