31/03/2010

Snowfalls Disrupt NI

Snowy conditions in some areas of Northern Ireland has led to a number of school closures while some 300 people had to be rescued from vehicles after they became stuck in snow near Londonderry, police have said.

Almost 50,000 homes, businesses and schools are without power as a result of damage caused to power lines by snow and high winds.

Motorists have been advised to take extra care on the roads, as snow and slush has made conditions treacherous.

Vehicles, including a school bus have been abandoned on the main Londonderry to Belfast road with the rescue now focused on 120 vehicles trapped on the Glenshane Pass after the 300 people were taken to shelter at 2am this morning.

The motorists were taken to Dungiven Leisure Centre, in County Londonderry, only for a power failure to strike, forcing them to relocate to nearby Limavady and Gulladuff.

It came as heavy snow and winds caused widespread problems across Northern Ireland with 48,000 homes left without power.
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NIE said there were currently 600 individual faults across the network.

The Roads Service said they were facing "unprecedented" conditions with further snow showers expected during most of Wednesday.

Public transport is also affected with the Ulsterbus service between Londonderry and Belfast cancelled due to the adverse weather.

Barnault Road between Claudy and Limavady remains closed due to drifting snow exceeding one metre deep. Snow clearing is ongoing, according to Roads Service.

On Tuesday night, the Belfast to Bangor rail line was closed following a landslide.

Roads Service staff were deployed to locations the length and breadth of Northern Ireland, as the full force of the worsening conditions took hold.

Colin Brown, of the Roads Service told the Belfast News Letter: "We had a combination of rain and snow, with some of our teams dealing with localised flooding.

"In other areas, we were out salting the roads, particularly in the northern and western counties."

(BMcC/Gk)

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