Fierce snow storms cause disruption
Published 23/03/2013 | 08:01
Around 1,000 homes are without water and many more lacked power after fierce snow storms disrupted services in Northern Ireland.
Electricity poles collapsed and lines sagged in blizzard conditions while water in some remote areas dried up because powered pumps stopped working.
Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has been working flat out to restore supplies but 29,000 homes are still waiting and it could be days before they are all reconnected. Water stopped running to around 1,000 properties in south Antrim and parts of County Down.
The road and rail networks, flights and ferries have also been badly affected, with police warning people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.
Northern Ireland's World Cup football qualifier with Russia at Belfast's Windsor Park was the highest-profile casualty on a day of widespread cancellations of sporting fixtures.
Many roads across Northern Ireland have been closed with motorists facing treacherous conditions, including six foot high banks of drifting snow and flood waters which forced some to abandon their vehicles.
NIE has used a helicopter to patrol electricity lines in hard to reach areas while repair teams from the Republic and Scotland were called in.
Sara McClintock, NIE spokeswoman, said: "Access to faults remains our biggest problem. We will continue with all of our efforts to restore customers as soon as is humanly possible but in many cases our crews are struggling through snow drifts up to six feet in depth."
Northern Ireland Water said some pumping stations experienced power interruptions affecting supplies.
"NI Water has deployed emergency generators to a number of sites to ensure supply is maintained to customers, however a number of customers in southern parts of County Antrim & County Down may experience low pressure or interruptions to their water supplies as a result of these power interruptions," a spokesman added.