Two killed as Storm Ophelia batters Ireland and the UK

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Two people have been killed as hurricane-force winds from Storm Ophelia battered Ireland and the UK.

A woman died when her car was struck by a falling tree as she was driving close to the village of Aglish in Waterford, Ireland, while a man was killed in a chainsaw accident as he tried to remove a fallen tree in Cahir, Co Tipperary.

Scores of homes were left without power, schools closed early, trees fell on to roads and bridges were shut on the UK mainland.

Remnants of the hurricane battered Britain's west coast on Monday afternoon, with gusts of up to 80mph, exactly 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 killed 18 people.

Around 200 properties in Wales suffered power cuts, a number of schools closed early and the Cleddau Bridge was shut to high-sided vehicles, Pembrokeshire County Council said.

Flood warnings were in place along the Pembrokeshire coast, parts of west Scotland, north-west England, Cornwall and Dorset.

Storm Ophelia weather warnings
(PA Graphic)

The RNLI has warned people to stay away from the sea during the extreme weather.

Matt Crofts, lifesaving manager, said seas are "particularly dangerous and unpredictable, with large waves and swells being a major risk".

"Stormy conditions may be tempting to watch but big waves can easily knock you off your feet," he added.

"The sea is far more powerful than you think and your chances of survival are slim if you are dragged into the swell.

"Our volunteer lifeboat crews will always launch to rescue those in danger at sea, but to launch into conditions like these could also put their lives at risk.

"We understand why people want to experience extreme weather but it's not worth risking your life, so we strongly urge people to respect the water and watch from a safe distance."

Anyone who sees a person in trouble in the water should dial 999 and not try to attempt a rescue themselves, he said.

The storm is expected to move across Wales, northern England and Scotland into Tuesday.

Storm Ophelia predicted path
(PA Graphics)

Planes were grounded at a number of airports in the affected areas and passengers have been warned to check ahead.

Schools and colleges were closed in Northern Ireland, which is covered by an amber weather warning, meaning there is a "potential risk to life and property", issued when forecasters believe people need to be prepared to change their plans and protect themselves from the impact of severe weather.

Flights and ferries have been cancelled in parts of Scotland.

Motorists on the M77 in western Scotland faced lengthy tailbacks as a lorry overturned in high winds at about 8.30am and blocked the southbound lane for more than a hour.

An #amber weather warning for Ex-Hurricane #Ophelia has been issued, but what does that mean? Stay #weatherawarehttps://t.co/EFVGlpF0N1pic.twitter.com/dpFKpp5XD6

-- Met Office (@metoffice) October 16, 2017

A yellow warning for high winds is in place for much of Wales, Scotland, north-east England, north-west England, south-west England and the West Midlands.

Parts of Scotland and Wales have been upgraded to amber.

Ireland was hit by the worst of the weather, with schools closed, around 130 flights cancelled at Dublin Airport and 120,000 homes without power.

ESB, the Republic of Ireland's electricity network, warned that more outages were expected and that repairs would take several days.

Storm Ophelia's path across Ireland
(PA Graphics/PA)

Met Eireann has issued a "status red" weather alert for Galway, Mayo, Clare, Cork and Kerry, warning of severe winds and stormy conditions.