Woman dies after gales batter UK

image captionInvestigators examine the scene of the fatal accident

A woman has died after a tree fell on her car during 24 hours of severe gales and torrential rain.

The 55-year-old was impaled on a branch in the incident in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on Thursday night and died a short time later in hospital.

Northern England, north Wales and Northern Ireland were worst hit by the bad weather, with electricity cut off, flights disrupted and bridges closed.

Damage to Blackpool's illuminations could cost up to £1m to repair.

West Yorkshire Police said the woman, from Pontefract, was travelling in a Vauxhall Zafira which was hit by the falling tree on the A642.

The 54-year-old male driver was hurt in the incident, but his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Flights diverted

Gales peaked late on Thursday, easing off through the early hours of Friday morning.

Great Dun Fell, in the north Pennines, recorded gusts of 100mph (161km/h), and Capel Curig, in Snowdonia, experienced 91mph (146km/h) winds.

image captionCoastal areas were particularly exposed - this was Saltcoats in North Ayrshire on Thursday

In Northern Ireland, some 6,000 people were left without power overnight, but services were restored by Friday afternoon.

The main areas affected were Dungannon and Omagh in County Tyrone, and Enniskillen in County Fermanagh.

At Leeds-Bradford airport, one flight from Dublin was forced to divert to Liverpool after making three unsuccessful attempts to land. Other planes were forced to fly on to Manchester.

Coastal areas bore the brunt of the gales and in Lancashire, roads surrounding Blackpool Tower, including part of the Promenade, were closed due to gale-force winds.

Police made the decision to cordon off the area after scaffolding fell to the ground from the Tower, which is undergoing refurbishment. No-one was injured.

Blackpool Council said there was extensive damage to the famous illuminations.

Coastguards at Holyhead, north Wales, said wind speeds reached 78mph (126km/h) and some ferries to Northern Ireland from the ports of Stranraer and Cairnryan on the west coast of Scotland were suspended. Some services were still disrupted on Friday.

The Britannia Bridge across the Menai Strait and Cleddau Bridge in Pembrokeshire were closed overnight, but have since reopened with speed restrictions.

The Dartford-Thurrock Thames river crossing, the QEII bridge, was closed on Thursday afternoon for safety reasons and police in Northamptonshire had to cordon off a bungalow after part of a tree smashed into it.

There were reports of localised flooding in some parts of Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Wight.

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