Storm Ali kills two as travel chaos and power cuts hit UK and Ireland

Alix Culbertson, news reporter

Storm Ali killed two people as tens of thousands of people were left without power and transport came to a halt in high winds and lashing rain.

As the UK and Ireland's first named storm of the season hit the British Isles, it quickly caused devastation with wind gusts reaching 102.2mph.

On Wednesday morning, a Swiss woman in her 50s, who had only arrived in Claddaghduff, Co Galway, on Ireland's west coast, hours before, died when her caravan was blown off a cliff.

Police said they found the woman's body a short while later on the beach below. She has been named locally as Elvira Ferraii.

As Ali barrelled across the UK, a man in his 20s was killed when a tree fell on him in Slieve Gullion Park in Newry, Northern Ireland.

Another man in his 40s was injured and was taken to hospital.

Northern Ireland Water said the man who died at the scene was a contractor for them.

"NI Water is currently working closely with the emergency services, the Health and Safety Executive and the PSNI, and will do everything possible to assist," a spokesman said.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those involved at this time."

In the small Scottish Highland village of Rogart, a man was taken to hospital with a suspected fractured rib after he was rescued from beneath a digger in a river.

By Wednesday lunchtime, winds in the north of England had picked up, causing havoc on the roads, at airports and on trains.

A woman was seriously injured when a tree fell on a car in Tarporley, Cheshire, trapping her inside just after 1.30pm.

Firefighters and a tree surgeon removed the tree before cutting off the car's roof and pulling her free.

The most powerful winds were recorded on the Tay Road Bridge into Dundee, where gusts reached 102.2mph (164.5kph) at 3pm.

Ireland was hit badly by power cuts, with ESB Networks saying 186,000 customers were without power at one stage.

In Northern Ireland more than 90,000 homes and businesses were affected, with about 22,000 properties still without power on Wednesday evening.

In Scotland more than 70,000 homes lost power, with the southwest being hit the hardest.

Fallen trees on overhead lines were causing the most damage for the networks.

Dozens of roads across the island of Ireland, Scotland and northern England were closed as trees were blown down, blocking them off.

And there were several large crashes across the UK which closed roads.

Just outside Durham, the A690 was closed after overhead railway power cables blocked the train tracks and the road below it.

Bridges across Scotland had restricted access as high winds whipped across them, including the Forth Road Bridge, Clackmannanshire Bridge and Queensferry Crossing, while the Tay Road Bridge was closed until 6pm.

Several cars were crushed by falling trees on roads across the UK and Ireland, but no further injuries were reported.

And trains suffered cancellations or severe delays as tracks were also blocked and some train windscreens smashed by debris.

A part of central Edinburgh was closed when lead from the roof of a Topshop store flew off in Princes Street.

Ireland's National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, which attracts more than 280,000 people, had to be cancelled - making it the first time since 1965 it has had to be axed due to weather.

Even boats were not safe, with a cruise ship, Nautica - with 478 passengers and 26 crew onboard - having to be rescued by tug boats after it slipped its mooring lines in Greenock, near Glasgow.

Dublin Airport was forced to cancel about 75 flights and divert 10 others.

Other airports experienced delays and strong cross winds, making for difficult landings.

As Storm Ali left the UK the Met Office's amber alert expired at 6pm and was replaced by a yellow alert covering the majority of the British Isles until late on Wednesday night.

Sky News weather producer Joanna Robinson said most of Scotland, Northern Ireland and northeast England will stay windy and showery overnight.

Most of the South will be blustery and dry but heavy rain will move into the South West, she added.

On Thursday, northern parts of the UK will be mainly dry with "plenty of sunshine", but northwest Scotland will be at risk of showers.

Much of southern England will be dry and elsewhere in the country heavy rain is forecast, especially for Wales and northeast England.