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Ophelia: At least 3 dead as former hurricane batters Ireland

By Sara Shayanian
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Ophelia: At least 3 dead as former hurricane batters Ireland
Former Hurricane Ophelia batters the Atlantic coast of Ireland in Lahinch village, County Clare, on Monday. Photo by Aidan Crawley/EPA-EFE

Oct. 16 (UPI) -- At least three people have died as a result of former Hurricane Ophelia hitting Ireland Monday, officials said.

A man and woman were each killed when trees fell on top of their vehicles, and a man died while cutting a downed tree with a chainsaw.

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Ophelia, a hurricane before it made landfall on Ireland's west coast early Monday, is expected to continue battering the country as it moves inland, forecasters said.

The Irish Times reported 120,000 homes without power and lockdowns have been ordered for virtually all locations in Ophelia's path.

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Officials say the storm is expected to cause the worst damage Ireland has seen in a half-century -- and comes 30 years after the Great Storm of 1987 killed 18 people.

The storm's wind speeds exceeded 100 mph on Monday. Officials said "there is a danger to life and property."

Northern Ireland Civil Service head David Sterling held an emergency meeting with all Irish government departments on Monday morning with all agreeing to activate emergency measures to ensure the public was "fully prepared."

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A status red warning was issued countrywide on Monday, with Met Éireann, the Irish meteorological service, urging residents to stay inside for the storm and avoid travel throughout the day.

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Former U.S. President Bill Clinton postponed a trip to Northern Ireland to take part in an intervention in the region's political stalemate. Officials said the visit may still take place on Tuesday.

All schools and colleges also were closed, along with banks and other government organizati. Emergency services were reduced and numerous outpatient procedures have been canceled.

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"We expect emergency departments to be particularly busy over the coming 24 hours and we would urge the public to respect the fact that these should be reserved for genuine emergencies only," Dr. Padraig McGarry, chairman of the Irish Medical Organization, said.

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