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Rabbit blown onto roof by Storm Gertrude

Fallen trees are removed from the Killyleagh Road in Downpatrick. Picture by Mal McCann on Twitter 
Connla Young

A PET rabbit was one of the victims of Storm Gertrude which has hit homes and business across Ireland.

The animal's hutch was swept on to the roof of a house on Deverney Road in Omagh overnight and firefighters had to go to its rescue.

Thousands of homes and businesses across Ireland have been left without power by Storm Gertrude.

The Atlantic storm battered Ireland and Britain overnight with gusts of more than 80mph.

NIE Networks said its emergency crews had restored power to more than 11,000 customers by 9am this morning while another 4,000 remain off line.

The supplier said it had reports of trees down across power lines and broken electricity poles.

The worst hit areas were in Counties Tyrone, Derry and Antrim.

Dozens of roads across the north have also been closed due to falling trees with the high winds also forcing the closure of the Foyle Bridge in Derry for a time.

While the worst of the near-hurricane force winds were expected to ease as the day goes on, forecasters warned of persistent severe gusts and heavy rain.

Julia Carson, NIE Networks communications manager, said: "We have been in regular contact with the Met Office and had mobilised NIE Networks emergency crews, engineers and call handlers in preparation for any damage the severe weather may cause.

"We have already restored power to 7,500 customers overnight and are continuing to assess the damage and carry out repairs."

Parts of the Republic have also been badly hit by Gertrude.

Among the worst affected areas were Stranorlar in Co Donegal and Killeshandra in Co Cavan, where almost 3,000 properties suffered blackouts.

Outages were also reported in Wicklow, Westport, parts of Dublin, Athenry, Cong, Co Mayo, Roscommon, Limerick, Kerry and Wexford.

Britain has also been thumped by the storm with the worst still to come in some areas.

In Scotland schools in the northern and western isles have been closed as storm Gertrude closes in.

The Met Office has upgraded its weather warning for Orkney and Shetland to a rare red alert.

It means dangerous conditions are expected with winds set to reach 100mph at times.

A spokesman said: "Storm-force west to south-westerly winds are expected to develop across Shetland during Friday. Frequent gusts of 80-90mph are expected, with gusts of around 100mph likely for a time this afternoon.

"Additionally, as a result of these winds, very large waves will develop and affect western coasts, during high tide.

"Expect dangerous conditions including structural damage and debris, disruption to power supplies and widespread disruption to transport, and take action to secure loose items."

Meanwhile, in Glasgow city centre, officials said roads were closed due to dangerous buildings caused by high winds.

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