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Headmaster among three dead in Storm Arwen

·5-min read
Headmaster among three dead in Storm Arwen

At least three people have died and more than 100,000 homes were left without power after Storm Arwen battered parts of Britain.

Dad-of-four and headmaster Francis Lagan died after his car was struck by a falling tree on Dublin Road in Antrim on Friday.

Paul Lagan died after a tree fell on a car during Storm Arwen (Twitter)
Paul Lagan died after a tree fell on a car during Storm Arwen (Twitter)

A 35 -year-old driver was also killed when the tree fell on his car on the B977 in Aberdeenshire around 5pm yesterday.

A third man - who has not been named - was crushed by a falling tree in Ambleside, Cumbria, last night.

Tributes poured in social media for Mr Lagan who was principal of St Mary’s Primary School in Maghera.

Sinn Fein MLA Declan Kearney said Mr Lagan was a “highly respected principal”.

“I was shocked and very saddened to learn about the death of a motorist after a tree fell on his car while travelling along the Dublin Road in Antrim town on Friday evening,” he said.

“The victim of this tragedy, Francis Lagan, was a highly respected South Derry school principal, who made an immense contribution to the community which he served. Francis was a renowned Maghera educationalist and civic leader.

“My thoughts and sympathies are with his family, school colleagues and students, and the wider community of Maghera, where he was held in very great regard.”

A car, crushed by a fallen tree and lamppost, is pictured in Birkenhead, north west England (AFP via Getty Images)
A car, crushed by a fallen tree and lamppost, is pictured in Birkenhead, north west England (AFP via Getty Images)

The Met Office had issued a red wind warning for parts of north-east England which expired early on Saturday, but the forecaster said amber and yellow warnings for wind remained in place across large swathes of the country.

A few inches of snow also fell across Scotland and parts of England, with more expected during the morning.

Marco Petagna, a Met Office forecaster, said: “We’ve seen some pretty severe gusts overnight with the highest speeds hitting 98mph at Brizlee Wood in Northumberland.

“Elsewhere, exposed sites in Scotland and Northern Ireland also surpassed 90mph, with 70-80mph seen more widely in the north of the UK, though parts of southern England and Wales also felt the effects of the storm.

Waves crash against the pier wall at Seaham Lighthouse during Storm Arwen, in Seaham (REUTERS)
Waves crash against the pier wall at Seaham Lighthouse during Storm Arwen, in Seaham (REUTERS)

“This has been coupled with a few inches of snow which has fallen in some areas.

“In the higher ground areas of Scotland we expected to see up to 15cm falling but the strong winds meant the snow blew around and created a blizzard in some parts.”

On Saturday high winds destroyed a “magical” Christmas attraction on the “world’s oldest railway”.

The sold-out, 90-minute North Pole Express experience is popular with families who take the train from East Tanfield station in North Yorkshire to see Santa and receive a Christmas present.

A volunteer from Tanfield Railway, where trains run on a rail dating to 1725, said the damage is “really disappointing”.

Meanwhile, wind speeds reached 87mph in Orlock Head, Co Down.

Inverbervie on the north-east coast of Scotland had gusts of 78mph, while Aberporth in Wales saw speeds of 77mph.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) confirmed that as of 9.30am on Saturday, 75,000 homes in Scotland were still without power due to the damage caused by the storm.

The firm has restored power to more than 40,000 homes, but warned the weather was severely hampering its work.

The main areas affected include Aberdeenshire, Angus, Perthshire and the Moray coast.

Mark Rough, director of customer operations at SSEN, said: “The impact of Storm Arwen continues to be felt across much of the country and has resulted in significant damage to our network across the north of Scotland.

“Our teams have been out since first light this morning to fully assess the extent of damage, supported by helicopter patrols to identify the worst affected areas, as we continue to restore power to customers in what remains very challenging conditions.

“Despite detailed preparations, the prolonged and severe nature of the weather continues to hamper efforts to restore supplies, with the high winds only subsiding from the early hours of this morning.”

He apologised to customers for the inconvenience and said further updates will be given at 1.30pm.

People have been advised to be wary of travelling on Saturday, as train networks across the UK reported disruption to services.

ScotRail services were disrupted between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street, Dunblane and Stirling after a barn was blown on to the line close to Polmont, near Falkirk.

TransPennine Express customers were urged not to travel, with services between Newcastle and Edinburgh cancelled.

South Western Railway expected disruption on Saturday morning due to “multiple trees and obstructions blocking the railway”, while London North East Railway warned customers not to travel north of York due to “significant damage”.

A fallen tree on car in Wallasey Village, Wirrall (PA)
A fallen tree on car in Wallasey Village, Wirrall (PA)

Dorset Council reported that trees and power cables had fallen on roads in the area, while road closures were reported more widely in the worst-affected parts of northern England and Scotland.

Social media footage appeared to show a number of lorries and cars stuck on roads where snow had fallen, with ploughs being deployed in a number of areas.

Homes across all parts of the UK were damaged as the gusts struck.

It came as Northern Powergrid said severe gales had caused power cuts for more than 55,000 customers, mainly in the Northumberland, County Durham and Tyne and Wear areas.


The Met Office warned that north-east and north-west England, the West Midlands and the East Midlands will experience cold weather until Monday.

Snow warnings remain in place across large parts of England, including the South East, and Scotland as a cold northerly airflow moves across the country, with up to 5cm expected.

Mr Petagna said a yellow warning for ice is likely to be issued for northern England and Scotland on Saturday.

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