STORM Ali has claimed its first victim after a caravan blew off a cliff with a woman inside.

It comes as high winds from the storm batter the west of Ireland and make their way to Scotland.

Police and emergency services are at the scene. The woman is believed to be aged in her fifties.

Rescuers attended at Claddaghduff, Co Galway, on Wednesday morning.

Irish police confirmed the woman in the caravan died.

A Garda statement said: "Gardai at Clifden Co Galway are investigating an incident which occurred at Claddaghduff, Co Galway this morning.

"At approximately 7.45am a report was received that a caravan had blown off the cliff at the above location.

"A search was carried out at the scene on the beach and after a short time the body of a female in her 50s was recovered.

"Her body is expected to be removed to University College Galway (UCG) for a post-mortem examination. The local coroner has been notified."

Irish President Michael D Higgins expressed his condolences to the family of the woman who died in Co Galway.

"Today's strong winds can result in dangerous situations and I would urge everyone to heed the warnings by the authorities and take caution when travelling or when out in the open," he said.

"I was deeply saddened to learn that Storm Ali has already claimed one victim today in Claddaghduff, Co Galway. As President of Ireland, may I express my deepest condolences to her family.

"I would also take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those, in statutory and voluntary organisations around the country, who are helping and stand ready to assist their fellow citizens, and who are working to maintain essential services around the country."

ESB Networks, which oversees the power supply, said approximately 55,000 homes, farms and businesses were without power this morning, primarily in the south-west of the country.

"The damage is mainly attributable to fallen trees on overhead lines as a result of the high winds.

"Storm Ali is currently active across the south-west and west coast of the country with gale force winds and gusts of up to 120 km/h per hour.

"The counties most impacted include Cork, Kerry and Limerick, as the storm continues to track north."

Crews have been mobilised and are working towards restoring power to all affected families.

In Northern Ireland, the M1 motorway was closed in both directions just west of Belfast due to fallen cables, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said.

Saintfield Road in Co Down was also closed at the junction of the old Ballynahinch Road due to a fallen tree.

A PSNI statement said: "Motorists are advised to exercise extreme caution in adverse weather conditions. Police are advising motorists to stay in their vehicles."