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Mercy mission to help horses marooned on island surrounded by floodwaters

By Cate McCurry

Published 05/02/2016

Teams from the Community Rescue Service bring food to the stranded horses on Lough Beg yesterday
Teams from the Community Rescue Service bring food to the stranded horses on Lough Beg yesterday
Teams from the Community Rescue Service bring food to the stranded horses on Lough Beg yesterday

Volunteers have launched a mercy mission to help horses stranded on an island surrounded by floodwaters.

The team from the Community Rescue Service (CRS) based at Portglenone brought hay and feed to the 10 animals which have been left stuck on the island on Lough Beg near Toome.

However, three other horses were found dead by rescue workers who came to the animals’ aid.

It is thought they found their way to the island on a causeway when the lough level was low.

The recent floodwaters flowing from Lough Neagh raised the level in Lough Beg, leaving the horses unable to make their way back.

Norman Worthington, who is the commander for the CRS in Portglenone, was part of the team of seven rescue workers who transported supplies.

“They are still on the island as we can’t get them off at the moment,” he explained.

“We got food to them and now that may have to continue until they are taken off. Unfortunately when we got there three had died.

“I believe that they went out when the water wasn’t as high for grazing.

“Then with the amount of water that had fallen, it caused floodwaters to run from Lough Neagh into this one.

“As a result, the water level where that small piece of land is was raised.

“That’s now become an island because of the volume of water around it.

“Someone had already taken food out to them but they need fed regularly.”

The team is unsure as to how the horses will be taken off the island as the water is too deep to cross safely.

While the horses are in good condition, the ground is cut up and the horses are standing in up to nearly a foot of mud.

Norman added: “It’s just a mercy mission at the moment. We are not sure who owns the horses and we haven’t heard.  The owner can’t get to the animals and they can’t get them off so it’s a catch-22 situation.

“There were seven of us out today carrying hay to them and some crushed barley as well.

“We’ll try and continue that. The horses were in good condition and were very friendly, we had no trouble getting to them or feeding them.

“They are feeding as much as they can off the place but the muck is nipping at them.

“Some of it is nine inches deep.”

Mid Ulster Council said it had received a complaint and was investigating.

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