Adverse weather conditions cause major disruption in Northern Ireland

At least 7,000 homes still without electricity

Residents clear the road of snow to gain access to their houses as wintry weather continues to cause havoc  in the village of Cargan in the Glens of Antrim. Photograph: Reuters

Residents clear the road of snow to gain access to their houses as wintry weather continues to cause havoc in the village of Cargan in the Glens of Antrim. Photograph: Reuters

Mon, Mar 25, 2013, 06:00

Strong winds, bitter cold and lingering heavy snow are still causing disruption in many parts of Northern Ireland with police urging motorists to travel only where absolutely necessary.

With the adverse weather conditions set to continue for a number of days PSNI chief inspector Tim Mairs said motorists and walkers must be very careful when on the roads, hills and mountains.

“We appeal to members of the public to be careful and although weather conditions may seem to be improving it is still hazardous in a number of areas,” he said.

On Saturday 35,000 homes were without electricity in Northern Ireland but by yesterday the number affected was down to 7,000. Up to 1,000 homes were without water but Northern Ireland Water said that by yesterday supply was restored to most customers.

Electricity repair crews were assisted by personnel from the Republic and Scotland as they battled through heavy snow and winds to carry out repairs. Northern Ireland Electricity said it would be a number of days before all customers had their supplies restored.

Several agencies such as the PSNI, the ambulance and fire services, mountain rescue, local councils, health providers, the Red Cross, RAF and volunteers were involved in assisting vulnerable people who were isolated by the heavy snow. The RAF sent a Sea King helicopter from Wales with a military mountain rescue team on board to assist rescue operations.

Chief Insp Mairs referred to one of 10 serious incidents where, when police couldn’t get through by road, a helicopter was dispatched to bring a 79-year-old-man to hospital. He couldn’t be moved because he was so weak and frail but police were able to “deliver vital oxygen”, said Chief Insp Mairs.

The weather also forced the postponement – first on Friday, and then on Saturday – of the Northern Ireland versus Russia World Cup qualifier game in Belfast. It is now likely to be held in June.