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Ireland battens down the hatches for Hurricane Ophelia

Ireland battens down the hatches for Hurricane Ophelia

Ireland has prepared for the arrival of the worst tropical storm to hit the nation in more than 50 years.

Hurricane Ophelia is set to hit the region, bringing with it wind gusts of more than 130km/h.

The Irish government has closed all schools and colleges, and cyclists and motorists have been urged to stay off the roads.

"All non-essential activity should be deferred. Do not be out tomorrow in this storm,"  the chairman of Ireland's National Emergency Coordination Group Sean Hogan said on Sunday.

The storm was classified as a hurricane on Sunday, but was reclassified as a post-tropical cyclone late in the evening. It was, however, still moving towards the country with sustained winds of 140km/h.

The armed forces have been deployed to bolster flood defences in some areas, while Britain's meteorological service has warned that the storm does pose a life-threatening danger and is likely to cause transport cancellations, power cuts and flying debris.

The United States National Hurricane Centre warned Wales and the north and western parts of England to expect tropical-storm-force winds.

"Our concern is to avoid a situation where we have fatalities as a result of the extremely destructive and violent gusts that we are expecting," Hogan explained.

The government warned that hurricane-force winds can be expected in every part of the country.

It also warned that Ophelia is likely to be the worst the country has seen since 1961's Hurricane Debbie, which killed 12 people.

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