Belfast Telegraph

Search operation launched for two men at Marble Arch Caves Geopark in Co Fermanagh

By David Young and Victoria O'Hara

Rescuers launched a search last night after two men went missing at the Marble Arch Caves Geopark in Co Fermanagh.

They were reported missing just after 6pm after going walking in hills above the tourist attraction.

Teams from the North West Mountain Rescue and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service were involved in the search last night.

It’s understood that the men were able to make contact with them on their mobile phones.

Meanwhile, flights at Northern Ireland’s two main airports were disrupted last night after a Boxing Day blizzard hit Britain.

Snow, heavy rain and sleet moved east across Northern Ireland, Wales, central and northern England and Scotland.

Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport was forced to close due to snow, and at least five flights were diverted. “We have had quite a deluge here,” a spokesman said.

Flights in and out of East Midlands Airport were also cancelled or diverted, and the combination of measures meant knock-on delays here.

Outbound passengers and people planning to meet incoming flights at Belfast International and Belfast City airports were last night advised to contact their airlines to check if their flights are affected.

Flights to and from City of Derry Airport have been unaffected, and Stena Line ferry sailings to and from Cairnryan and Liverpool are operating normally.

Northern Ireland looks set to escape the worst of the severe winter weather hitting the UK today, although temperatures will still dip below freezing before the New Year, forecasters warned.

Drivers here should be particularly careful after icy and wintry conditions were predicted to spread across counties Armagh, Down, Fermanagh and Tyrone.

Temperatures here could plunge to around -4C in parts, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. However, the Met Office said England will experience the heaviest snowfalls this weekend, with parts of the country having already woken up to a blanket of snow.

Yellow warnings had been issued for Northern Ireland, Wales, the Midlands, East Anglia, and the North West, although the weather is expected to turn milder after the weekend. Met Office forecaster Ken McEwan said the cold snap will bite over the next few days.

“Theworst of the weather on this side of the Irish Sea will be in the south, where some light flurries of snow were recorded yesterday.

“I think for the most part it will mostly be rain or sleet at lower levels and there will be snow over the Mournes and higher ground,” he said. “The cold and bright weather will continue over the weekend.”

He added: “There will be scattered wintry showers, the heaviest and most frequent along the north coast and Antrim hills, and brisk north to northwesterly winds. But the areas most at risk of snow are north Antrim and Co Londonderry.

“The Sperrin Mountains will get the brunt of that and it will get milder towards the New Year.

“A sharp overnight frost is forecast to spread across Northern Ireland tomorrow but it will be warmer by Tuesday.

“You have a cold snap that will last into next week but becoming milder around Tuesday and certainly milder for the very end of this year and into the New Year”.

The snow made conditions difficult for some of yesterday’s football matches, including in the West Midlands as West Bromwich Albion lost 3-1 to Manchester City in a game played during a blizzard at The Hawthorns stadium. The winter storm battering the UK is expected to continue across Europe over the weekend, affecting France and Germany today. Ahead of that, up to 10cms of snow was expected to fall last night in Berlin.

On the other side of the Atlantic, parts of the US experienced a white Christmas. In Colorado, some ski resorts enjoyed up to six inches of snow.

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