Belfast Telegraph

Ulster battered by 80mph winds and torrential rain

By Deborah McAleese
08 January 2005

A ferry from Northern Ireland ran aground today off the west coast of Scotland in hurricane-force winds, leaving 100 people stranded on board.

The P&O European Highlander ran into trouble at Cairnryan when it was hit by winds of more than 100 knots.

The P&O vessel, with 43 passengers and 57 crew on board, is currently sitting on a shingle beach as the weather is making it difficult for tugs to get to it.

The severe overnight storms caused havoc across Northern Ireland.

Weather warnings have been issued to motorists by the PSNI and the Met Office after torrential rain and gales reaching 80mph left a trail of destruction throughout the province.

Trees and power lines have been blown down, several roads have been closed due to severe flooding, ferry crossings have been cancelled and thousands of homes left without electricity.

Three people were taken to hospital after a tree fell on their car at Ballygawley's Martrey Road.

A man was also taken to Lagan Valley hospital after a tree fell on to his mobile home at Dromore's Blackskull Road.

In Belfast a chimney top blew off a house at India Street and landed on a number of parked cars.

More than 33,000 households around the Downpatrick, Newry, Bangor and Craigavon areas were left without electricity this morning after several power lines were damaged in the storm.

Northern Ireland Electricity engineers are continuing to try to restore power to almost 20,000 homes.

There was also extensive flooding throughout parts of Fermanagh with sandbags having to be distributed in Irvinestown.

Stena Line has been forced to cancel all its sailing today due to 'adverse weather conditions' and Sea Cat has been forced to postpone some sailings to the Isle of Man.

According to the National Met Office heavy winds and rain are expected to ease off by this evening, but they may pick up again throughout Sunday and Monday.

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