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Storm forces Dublin bound plane to divert to Belfast

Belfast International AirportA storm sweeping across southern Ireland forced the pilot of an Air France aeroplane bound for Dublin to divert to Belfast yesterday. Due to the strong winds brought in by Storm Abigail, the pilot of AF1816 from Paris was forced to circle Dublin Airport while waiting for a break in the weather.

At 15:28 the unnamed pilot told air-traffic controllers the aircraft was running out of fuel. Ten minutes later, the alert was escalated to a full emergency and the pilot diverted to Belfast International Airport and made an emergency landing.

AF1816 landed safely on the tarmac at Belfast at 15:48 and none of the 93 passengers and crew on board sustained any injuries. Buses were laid on to transport passengers the 100 miles down to Dublin.

Storm Abigail struck Ireland and Western Scotland yesterday evening and the Met Office says it recorded wind speeds of up to 84mph. The storm is set to continue and local authorities have ordered schools in the Shetland Islands and the Western Isles to close today.

The storm has severely affected Clyde and Hebrides ferry services and many services have been suspended until the weather breaks. A Skye to Raasay ferry that normally takes 20 minutes at most took three hours yesterday as the captain could not dock due to the winds.

Storm Abigail is the first storm to be given an official name by the Met Office. The bureau says that although the main problem with Abigail is the gale-force winds, she is expected to dump up to eight inches of rain on Ireland and the western half of the UK by tomorrow morning.

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