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Storm Arwen: Three die across UK as severe weather inflicts chaos on power lines, roads and rail

© Kenny Elrick/DCT MediaCrews remove a huge, fallen tree yesterday after it crushed a police van in Aberdeenshire  during the storm
Crews remove a huge, fallen tree yesterday after it crushed a police van in Aberdeenshire during the storm

Almost 100,000 Scots were still without power last night after the 90mph winds of Storm Arwen left a trail of devastation and death.

Three people died, including a driver in Scotland, as the winds battered the UK on Friday bringing down power lines and causing huge travel disruption.

Despite engineers restoring power to tens of thousands of properties, an estimated 95,000 remained cut off.

The main areas affected include Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perthshire and the Moray coast, though residents further south in Scotland, such as in East Lothian, were also without power.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) workers were out at first light to survey the damage yesterday but the energy firm said the weather severely hampered the repair effort. The firm said 75,000 households were still off-grid into yesterday afternoon.

Storm Arwen hits Scotland (Pic: Derek Ironside / Newsline Media)

Mark Rough, director of customer operations at SSEN, said: “Friday’s weather event was one of the most severe the region has seen in decades, in part due to the unusual wind direction and sustained high wind speeds which has caused significant damage in places.”

He apologised to customers and thanked them for their “continued patience and understanding”.

SSEN offered free hot food and drink to communities affected including residents in the Angus town of Carnoustie, Aberfeldy in Perthshire, and north-east villages Kintore, Cullen, Mintlaw and Tarland.

Scottish Power Energy Networks, meanwhile, said the majority of its 20,000 customers still without power yesterday were in Dumfries, Fife and Lothian and Borders.

A 35-year-old was killed when a falling tree hit his Nissan Navara pick-up near the Aberdeenshire village of Hatton of Fintray on the B977 at around 5pm on Friday.

A police van used by two officers understood to be attending the incident was crushed by a falling tree near the rural Aberdeenshire village. The officers were not in the van and were unhurt.

Engineers repair power lines near Strichen (Pic: Derek Ironside / Newsline Media)

Sergeant Craig McNeill, of the divisional road policing unit at Inverurie, said: “Our thoughts are very much with the man’s family and friends at this time.

“Officers responding to this crash had parked a distance away due to weather conditions. On returning to their van they discovered a tree had fallen on it. No one was injured.”

Another man was killed when his car was struck by a falling tree in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, while a second man died when a tree fell on him in Ambleside, Cumbria.

Much of Scotland suffered storm damage and extensive travel disruption.

The worst of the winds hit the east of the country after a red weather warning was issued for coastal areas – the first such alert since February 2018’s storm dubbed the “Beast from the East.”

Forty-two passengers were stuck for 17 hours on an Aberdeen-Inverness train. It was stuck at Huntly station overnight, due to debris on the line. Train staff visited a supermarket to pick up supplies for passengers while a kind-hearted helper from Strathisla Bakery in Keith delivered pies and breakfast rolls.

Travel disruption continued into yesterday with Network Rail describing the situation as “one of the most challenging in recent memory”.

Continued line closures yesterday were mostly in the east and north of Scotland with the organisation warning people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

LNER advised train passengers travelling to England to wait until tomorrow before attempting to make their journey.

The demand for emergency services saw calls to fire crews almost triple.

Huge waves crash against the lighthouse in Seaham Harbour, County Durham (Pic: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

John Dickie, assistant chief officer with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This has been an exceptional weather event and a challenging night where we received a high number of weather-related calls.

“We have seen high numbers of emergency calls from the Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Fife, East Lothian and Scottish Borders areas where many buildings were damaged by the high winds – resulting in a significant localised response.

“Firefighters also attended a number of other incidents including road traffic collisions and fires.”

He thanked firefighters and control room staff for their “outstanding work” in coping with the storms.

The fire service itself was impacted with the roof of Altens Community Fire Station in Aberdeen damaged while firefighters in Galashiels escaped uninjured after an appliance was struck by falling trees.

A driver who had stopped at traffic lights was left trapped in her car in Dundee for a short time when a tree landed on top of her vehicle. She escaped thanks to drivers who came to her aid.

Car covered by fallen bricks in Sunderland (Pic: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

Snow reached some areas such as Aberdeen, where the city airport saw flights delayed and cancelled. An easyJet flight from Bristol to Edinburgh, meanwhile, had to divert to Glasgow after several aborted attempts to land.

Buses were cancelled throughout the country while major traffic routes including the Forth Road Bridge and Tay Road Bridge shut at the height of the storm.

The Queensferry Crossing stayed open thanks to its purpose-built wind shield.