Hurricane batters North East

Lucky Escape: The bus hit a garage after being blown off the A975, halting just inches from trees. The driver escaped with minor injuries.
Lucky Escape: The bus hit a garage after being blown off the A975, halting just inches from trees. The driver escaped with minor injuries.

A BUS driver had a lucky escape on Thursday night after being blown off the road, as hurricane-force winds battered the North East.

Gusts of up to 165mph were recorded in the Cairngorms. The storms, which brought travel chaos with the closure of all major road bridges and major disruption to rail and ferries, even trended worldwide for a time on the Twitter social networking site.

The effects of the bad weather were felt locally, as a gust of wind forced a Stagecoach bus off the A975 Newburgh-Cruden Bay road at the crossroads for Collieston. The bus came to rest shortly after 8.30pm beside the garage of Slains Estate gamekeeper Mike Sinclair, just inches from trees and less than 10 yards from a gas tank. The bus driver, who suffered minor injuries, was taken to hospital by police.

“I got a bit of a surprise”, said Mr Sinclair, who drove lorries for 20 years. “I thought I heard the doorbell, then when I looked outside, I saw all the police flashing lights.

“The bus landed at the back of the garage. Although there’s nothing damaged inside, the garage itself has been moved forwards about four feet.

“The wind must have caught the side of the bus and once you’re on the grass in a vehicle like that, that’s it. The driver had a lucky escape, as if she’d hit the trees, things could have been a lot more serious.”

A spokesman for Stagecoach Bluebird said: “At 2032 hours yesterday, 8th December 2011, one of our buses was involved in an incident at Collieston Crossroads. The bus involved, which was a single deck bus, left the road and collided with a garden shed. The passenger on board was uninjured and our driver was taken to hospital as a precaution, but later discharged with no injuries.”

The A981 between Strichen and New Deer was closed south of the junction with the A950, after a number of trees blocked the road shortly after 2am. The road re-opened at 3pm after Aberdeenshire Council workers had cleared the debris and made damaged trees safe.

Elsewhere, a number of homes in Aberdeenshire were left without power as electricity lines came down. Internet and telephone services were also hit in Newmachar and around Oldmeldrum.