Engineers battle overnight to restore power to Northern Ireland
ENGINEERS worked through the night to restore power supplies in blizzard conditions in Northern Ireland.
Six foot snow drifts left emergency crews struggling to get through but electricity returned to 5,000 homes overnight, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said.
About 35,000 customers are still cut off and teams were out again from first light to continue with network repairs.
The continuing storm in Northern Ireland has forced the abandonment of a World Cup qualifying football match and seen electricity cut to thousands of homes and businesses.
Sara McClintock, NIE spokeswoman, said: "The storm continued throughout the night and so conditions on the ground remain atrocious in many areas.
"Access to network faults is extremely difficult with up to six feet snow drifts. Emergency crews are struggling to get through even in 4x4 vehicles."
The worst affected areas this morning are around Ballyclare, Co Antrim, and Bangor, Co Down, however there are still many faults across Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland's scheduled football fixture against Russia at Windsor Park in Belfast last night was postponed until this afternoon with the agreement of both teams' governing bodies.
Worst-hit properties are mainly in counties Down and Antrim.
NIE said the damage to the network had been caused by ice on cables and trees bringing down lines and breaking poles.
The runway at George Best Belfast City Airport experienced a number of closures throughout yesterday due to the weather, while flights at Belfast International Airport were also disrupted.
More than 70 schools were forced to shut for the day while commuters faced hazardous conditions on the roads.
NIE said hundreds of additional engineers had been deployed to deal with the effects of the 55mph storm-force winds and driving snow and sleet.
Phone lines and electricity supplies were down for a time at the Mater Hospital in north Belfast.