Baptism of ice for military snowmobile
An ex-Swedish military snowmobile used to rescue two men stranded on a mountain pass and relieve an army outpost will today be called in to dig out a young family that has been cut off by blizzards.
In only its second day in operation, the six-and-a-half tonne Hagglunds Bv 206 tracked vehicle drove through waist-deep snow and fir-lined forests in the remotest parts of the Wicklow mountains on rescue missions.
It will return to the 1,500ft high Cloughlea region this morning to rescue a couple and their two small children -- one a five-week-old baby -- who have been marooned in their home for three weeks.
The BV 206, which has been bought by the Civil Defence, is a widely used military vehicle.
The Irish Defence Forces use ex-Norwegian Army Bv 206s to carry air defence radars which control surface-to-air missiles.
The amphibious-over-snow vehicle was imported by the Dublin Civil Defence before Christmas as floods began to destroy hundreds of homes.
However, its maiden journey was taken up with rescuing two snowbound men from the Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains.
The men had tried to pass the notorious road at around 8.30pm on Tuesday in a jeep but they became stranded in up to eight feet of snow.
As temperatures dipped to below minus 3C, the men called the Dublin Civil Defence to bring them to safety.
Eight civil defence volunteers and two members of the Dublin-Wicklow Mountain Rescue team arrived at the scene at around 9.30pm in the Bv206, which has a forward cab and a rear articulated unit to carry survivors.
Yesterday, building worker Mark Foster joined a Civil Defence crew as they drove up narrow, snow-filled roads to the Cloughlea area to relieve an army outpost at Kilbride military camp.
The 41-year-old has been forced to stay with family and friends with snow blocking him out of his nearby home for the past three days.
"You just can't get up, nothing can get up to me. I'm just going to save my dog and bring him down with me," Mr Foster said.
"I had a digger trying to dig my way up and I couldn't get it up, it couldn't be done."
Local woman Marie Eustace said she had not witnessed such deep snow in half a century.
"It hasn't been like this since 1963 and it's worse now because the frost underneath the snow is the problem."