Thousands still without power in Ireland after freak storm

Dublin (AFP) - Some 216,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity and 20,000 without running water in Ireland on Tuesday, the day after Storm Ophelia hit the country, claiming three lives.

The outages mainly affected the south and west of Ireland. Irish Water warned that services to an additional 360,000 customers could be cut if power is not restored in areas where pumps and water treatment plants have come to a standstill.

On Monday, winds reached 191 kilometres (119 miles) per hour, ripping out trees, damaging roofs and bringing down power lines.

Schools remained closed Tuesday in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, despite better weather returning to most areas.

Transport was largely back to normal despite some flights being cancelled and some bus routes temporarily suspended.

Many roads remained blocked by fallen trees and teams were working to clear the debris and restore power lines.

The authorities are yet to estimate the cost of the clean-up.

Eoghan Murphy, the minister for housing, planning and local government, said he would brief the cabinet once he had a clearer picture.

"The initial indications though would seem to suggest that the most significant issue are our obstructions to roads," he told RTE radio.

"It's due to fallen trees or fallen power lines so it may not be the type of structural damages that we've seen in previous storms."

Concerns about storms coming off the Atlantic Ocean piled up after the country was affected by Darwin in 2014, followed by Desmond and Frank the following year.

A report published in September by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said: "The number of intense storms is projected to increase over the North Atlantic region.

"Projections suggest that the winter tracks of these storms may extend further south and over Ireland more often."

The storm was passing over Scotland on Tuesday.

Train services between Glasgow and Edinburgh were temporarily hit by falling trees.