NEWS

The Met Office has warned people could be killed or injured when strong winds batter the West Midlands over the next 24 hours.

The national forecaster has issued a yellow weather warning for wind from 9pm tonight to 11am tomorrow, with gusts of up to 50mph expected.


It says buildings could be damaged and phone and power lines may be brought down, along with disruption to road and rail services.

 

It said: "Very strong winds will affect parts of the UK during Wednesday night and into Thursday.

"The strongest winds are expected to transfer eastwards across the warning area before clearing by late morning.

"Road, rail and ferry services may be affected, with longer journey times and cancellations.

"There is also a possibility that some bridges may close.

"Power cuts may occur, with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage.

"Injuries and danger to life from flying debris are possible, along with some damage to buildings.

"In addition, large waves are expected to affect some western coasts with beach material being thrown onto sea fronts, coastal roads and properties."

 

Heavy snow falls have been causing disruption as wintry conditions sweep across large swathes of Scotland.

Traffic between Scotland and England has been affected, with lanes on the M74 southbound in Lanarkshire closed between J12 Millbank and J13 Abington.

Traffic Scotland said gritters were working to make the motorway safe enough to fully re-open. Police advised motorists to avoid the area.

Some drivers complained of being stuck in traffic for several hours.

On the Isle of Skye, the main road - the A87- was blocked for several hours in both directions by a jack-knifed lorry.

The closure meant two school buses with pupils who had been stuck for hours had to return Portree High. The school said they would be put in temporary accommodation for the night.

The Met Office has issued an amber alert for south west Scotland, extending to parts of the central belt, lasting until Wednesday morning. Thundersnow was also forecast in the west.

Earlier on Tuesday evening, all three lanes on the M74 at Millbank were closed but one has since re-opened. Police advised drivers to follow the gritter and said the delays would take some time to clear.

Motorist Nigel Cliff, who was heading south, told BBC Scotland at about 19:00 that he had been stationary on the motorway for about an hour and a half.

"It's pretty rough," he said. "It's snowing again now so it is probably only going to get worse. There are cars and lorries just sitting here - nothing moving."

Mr Cliff said he was prepared for the conditions: "I've got food. I've got big thick coats, big thick socks. My wife always makes sure I've got everything in the car."

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf tweeted that a number of HGVs had "lost traction with challenging weather impacting on M74".

He added: "Necessary to close the junction to get additional gritters and equipment to the scene."

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Snow disruption in Northern Ireland
Police Scotland said anyone taking to the roads in the worst affected areas was "highly likely" to experience disruption, and urged drivers to consider carefully if the journey was necessary.

A Multi Agency Response Team (Mart) is now operational to monitor conditions. The deputy first minister and transport minister also chaired a meeting of the Scottish government's resilience operation to receive an update on the situation.

Skip Twitter post by @HumzaYousaf

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: "The Met Office has upgraded its snow warning for parts of south west and central Scotland, with the areas affected by the amber warning set to see heavier snowfalls and greater disruption to transport.

"The snow and ice is likely to lead to difficult driving conditions, so I'd urge all travellers to take extra time and plan their journeys in advance. The high winds forecast for later in the week may also see some bridge restrictions."

The Met Office amber "be prepared" warning - which means transport and power supplies may be disrupted with a potential risk to lives and property - was issued from 15:00 on Tuesday until 08:00 on Wednesday and also extends across much of Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said crews had attended 12 crashes as a direct result of the poor conditions and at least 13 schools were closed.

 

A woman was rescued after a severe fire broke out at a shop in Coventry.

Flames and smoke poured from the front of Jungle Vapes, in Sewall Highway, Courthouse Green,after the blaze took hold just after 3.30pm on Monday.


Four fire crews were sent to the scene and a led one woman to safety from a neighbouring shop.

A spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said: “We received reports of a severe fire in a mid-teraced shop with a residential flat above.

“Two crews from Foleshill were sent and then due to the number of calls received and footage also received showing a severe fire, a third crew from Binley was sent.

“When that crew arrived they then requested a fourth crew which was sent from Coventry.

“At 4.32pm were received a message that the fire was out.”

West Midlands Ambulance Service stated that it was treating two people for minor smoke inhalation after being called by the fire service.

Eyewitness Matthew Spiller tweeted: "Ceiling caught fire, then the sofa, then the whole thing."

 

One of the messages left at the scene describe Jordan as a “star in the sky”, while another reads “Ride in heaven Brother xxx”.

One person wrote: “My bro! I love you forever like a brother. You always looked out for me I will never forget you, see you on the other side.”

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “Emergency services arrived to find a car which had been involved in a serious collision with a tree.

“Sadly, it quickly became apparent to ambulance staff that nothing could be done to save one occupant, a man, and he was confirmed dead on scene.

“A second occupant, a man, was in a critical condition.

“Ambulance staff and the doctor worked rapidly as a team to administer advanced trauma care to the man on scene before he was conveyed by ambulance on blue lights to University Hospital in Coventry for further trauma care.”

A third man, in his 20s, was also treated at the scene for less serious injuries before being taken to the same hospital for further checks.

The Cranberries lead singer Dolores O'Riordan has died suddenly at the age of 46, her publicist has confirmed.

The Irish musician, originally from Limerick, led the band to international success in the 90s with singles including Linger and Zombie.

A statement from her publicist said: "The lead singer with the Irish band The Cranberries was in London for a short recording session.

"No further details are available at this time."

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said the police were called to a hotel in Park Lane at 09:05 GMT on Monday, where "a woman in her mid-40s" was pronounced dead at the scene.

The death is, at this stage, unexplained.

Her current band mates in The Cranberries - Noel Hogan, Fergal Lawler, and Mike Hogan - paid tribute to the lead singer on social media.

The message said: "She was an extraordinary talent and we feel very privileged to been part of her life from 1989."

Her publicist added: "Family members are devastated to hear the news and have requested privacy at this very difficult time."

The Cranberries shot to international fame with their 1993 debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? and went on to sell over 40 million records worldwide.

In 2017 The Cranberries announced a tour including dates in Europe, the UK, and the US.

However, in May - shortly into the European tour - the group had to cancel the remainder of the European dates as a result of O'Riordan's health issues.

The official Cranberries website cited "medical reasons associated with a back problem" preventing singer Dolores O'Riordan from performing.

But just before Christmas O'Riordan had posted on Facebook saying she was "feeling good" and had done her "first bit of gigging in months", leading fans to believe she would soon be performing again.

O'Riordan tweeted a picture of herself with her cat to fans in early January saying she was "off to Ireland".

O'Riordan split from her husband of 20 years, Don Burton in 2014. She and Burton, who is the former tour manager of Duran Duran, have three children together.

The singer was arrested over an alleged air rage incident in 2014 but was released without charge, after a stewardess was reportedly attacked on a flight from New York to Shannon, County Clare.

O'Riordan was taken to hospital in Limerick after being questioned by police and later discharged.

Two years later, O'Riordan was ordered to pay 6,000 euros (£5,300) to charity for headbutting a police officer after an alleged air rage incident.

She was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015, which she said explained why she was in a "manic" state on the plane.

In an interview in 2013 she said that she had been abused as a child, which led to her developing an eating disorder, and eventually she suffered a breakdown.

She described her family, especially her children, as her "salvation".

Irish president Michael D Higgins called her death "a big loss", and added O'Riordan's work with The Cranberries "had an immense influence on rock and pop music in Ireland and internationally".

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said she was probably "Limerick's greatest ever rock star", and that her band "captured all of the angst that came with your teenage years".

'Unforgettable voice'
The Kinks guitarist and singer Dave Davies paid tribute to O'Riordan, saying he was "shocked" and that he had seen her "a couple weeks before Christmas".

He added "she seemed happy and well".

Irish rock band Kodaline were among the first to pay tribute on social media.

Duran Duran's official Twitter feed posted a message saying the band was "crushed" to hear of the singer's death.

Others to pay tribute include The Late, Late Show presenter, James Corden, who said meeting her when he was 15 years old "made his day".

Jim Corr from Irish band The Corrs tweeted offering his "deepest sympathies" to O'Riordan's family.

A book of condolence will be opened in her home town of Limerick on Tuesday, at the city council's headquarters.

O'Riordan, the youngest of seven children, had written her own songs since she was 12.

She joined the band while still in her teens, after spotting an advert for a female singer for rock band The Cranberry Saw Us.

Later changed to The Cranberries, the band's most successful tracks include Linger (1993), Zombie (1994) - a protest song about bombings that took place in relation to the conflict in Northern Ireland - as well as No Need To Argue (1994) and To the Faithful Departed (1996).

O'Riordan briefly pursued a solo career after the band split in 2003, before The Cranberries reunited in 2009.

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