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Video: RAF chopper in Northern Ireland animal snow rescue op as freezing weather continues

Published 26/03/2013

Sheep huddle together in the hills above the Glens of Antrim
Sheep huddle together in the hills above the Glens of Antrim
A man walks on the Carnlough to Ballymena road in Co Antrim after abandoning his vehicle due to snow
NIE crews making emergency repairs to the electricity network after fierce snow storms in Northern Ireland disrupted services
A Northern Ireland Electricity engineer as heavy snow falls on the Carnlough to Ballymena
A tractor attempts to clear drifting snow in the hills above the Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland
A tractor attempts to clear drifting snow in the hills above the Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland
A snow covered Windsor Park in Belfast
People in Belfast battle against the elements as Northern Ireland hit by snow, sleet and strong winds
A Northern Ireland Electricity engineer as heavy snow falls on the Carnlough to Ballymena road in Co Antrim
Severe weather on the Cushendall Road Ballycastle
Basil McCrea travelling through Dromara snowfields. Image supplied by Jamie Mackrell
Basil McCrea with residents in Annahilt. Image supplied by Jamie Mackrell
Image of a car between a snow bank. Image supplied by Paul Connolly
House of Stephen Bryden on the Cairn Road outside Carrickfergus. Image sent in by Gerry Millar
Northern Ireland Electricity crews making emergency repairs to the network after fierce snow storms (Northern Ireland Electricity/PA)
Motorists battle through blizzards and drifting snow in the hills above the Glens of Antrim
Snow ended Northern Ireland's hopes of playing Russia at the weekend
PACEMAKER BELFAST 22/3/2013 An unfortunate motorist on the M1 , with the weather causing problems across the country Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Gallery of Belfast Telegraph readers' snow pictures Garden fox - Carrowreagh, Dundonald submitted by Carol Cinnamond March 22 2013
PACEMAKER BELFAST 22/3/2013 Clearing the way on the Belfast Road outside Crumlin Co Antrim with the weather causing problems across the country Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland- 22nd March 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Pitch inspection at Windsor Park ahead of Northern Ireland's World Cup Qualifier against Russia following a night of heavy snow. Workmen attempt to clear the pitch of snow.
Gallery of Belfast Telegraph readers' snow pictures Castle Gardens, Lisburn. By Tom Porter
Beautiful trees on divis mountains. By Pauline
A Winter Sun In Lisburn. By Tom Porter
Snowy Fence around Ballymena. By Barry Lau - Ballymena
Belfast Telegraph readers' pics of winter weather: Icy Waterfall on January 11. By Katie S., Killarney National Park
River moyola tobermore. picture submitted by Rod Mulholand.Tobermore. 30.03.2010
Laura Henderson, south Belfast
Snow covered Brooke Park, Derry. Pablo O'Connor and his mum Laura.
My pug enjoys snow for the first time. By 'littlestirishone' Nov 2010
Kells, Antrim.Submitted by 'keveddy'
Craigavon lakes frozen and dusted with snow. By Jeremy Clifford, Craigavon Nov 2010
Frozen Cat: By Pauline Belfast
St Canice's Church Eglinton . By Willie Robb Eglinton Nov 2010
Dromore Lane. By Rod Mulholland.Tobermore. Nov 2010
Two-year-old Sophie Duffy enjoys herself after falling out of her sleigh at LIsnagelvin in Derry
First time on a sleigh. Submitted by Jenny Kordys, Drumaness Nov 2010
Stramore Road. Gilford. By 'jocorleone' Nov 2010
Adam Kerr (6) makes the most of the snow on monday as he adds the finishing touches to an igloo at the Playtrail in Londonderry.
Little Aoibheann McElhone from Claudy braves the cold to make a snowwoman
Snowman. By Rod Mulholland Nov 2010
Summit of Donard. By Brian, Portadown Caption:
Baby, it's cold outside!. By Sinead Hoben, Newry
Snow covered Brooke Park, Derry
Foraging for food , Ballyclare. By Joan Wilson
Broadwater Canal Aghalee. By Michelle Myles, Maghaberry
Swans on the canal, Ballynahinch. By Pauline Rainey. Dec 2010
Sammy & Harvey enjoying the snow by Miriam Taylor, Belfast
Mournes snowboarding. Submitted by Gav
My chocolate labrador Levi . Jason Davidson Ballymoney
Craigavon Lakes 1/12/10. Brian Portadown
Spelga Dam 1.12.10 Taken by Ronan Sherry
My Son Zack enjoying the snow. Dec 2010. By Trish Taylor in Derry
Craigavon Lake. By J O'Neill. Dec 2010
Silent Valley from Slieve Lamagan, Mourne Mtns - by Jon, Portadown
Fiend or foe.... By Robin McCormick. Dec 2010
Looking towards Slieve Binnian, Mourne Mtns - by Jon, Portadown
A red deer stag crosses the road as it comes down from the hills to the River Clunie near Braemar to forage for food as snow continues to cover much of the UK.
Dawn on the wing, Belfast International Steven Braiden
The Mourne Mountains, by Yvonne
Belfast Castle. Picture by Bill Corr
Fog over Bill Corr
Hello Snow! Jean Elliott, Portrush
On the Bill Corr, Belfast
The Cave Hill by Bill Corr
Paula Cuesta from Segovia assists with Winter Graduation arrangements at Queen's. Picture by Barbara Groves
Coolnasillagh, Co. Derry. By Joe O'Kane
Tropical palm in Portrush. By Jean Elliott

An RAF Chinook helicopter has joined an emergency operation to help those cut off by huge snow drifts across Northern Ireland as freezing temperatures continue.

The aircraft landed at Aldergrove, near Belfast, this afternoon and then began airlifting fodder and provisions to the Glens of Antrim where thousands of livestock are feared to have died.

Temperatures are due to remain low across the course of the week with some further snow expected.

The MoD agreed to a request by Secretary of State Theresa Villiers for the helicopter because of the growing plight facing farmers struggling to trace missing sheep who have vanished in snow drifts of up to 20 feet high.

A senior official with the Department of Agriculture will be on board the Chinook to identify areas worst affected by the snow and freezing temperatures. Farmers said the conditions, especially in the Glens, are the worst in living memory.

Police and mountain rescue teams are already heavily involved in operations to reach isolated farms.

Meanwhile police have warned hill walkers of snow hazards which are "not normally seen in Northern Ireland such as cornices and avalanche risks in those areas affected by snow and strong winds".

Meteogroup's Laura Caldwell said temperatures are set to remain low tonight, dropping to -4C as the evening draws in.

"It will be pretty similar conditions to those we have been having, staying cold and with quite a bit of cloud around with a few light snow showers," she said.

"But not adding to the snow we already have and nothing like we had before. It will tend to die out overnight but there will be a few more snow flurries over the course of the week.

"Tuesday's temperatures will not be much above 2 or 3C with pretty consistent temperatures going forward."

Estimates suggest that up to 10,000 animals have been buried beneath snowdrifts which reached up to 18ft (5.5m) high in parts of Counties Antrim and Down.

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill said: "What we have done is we have asked the MoD to provide a helicopter because there was no helicopter available anywhere on this island that would be capable of taking the feed up and distributing it.

"We put a call into Theresa Villiers, the British Secretary of State, and asked for the MoD helicopter which could provide the service. They have agreed to come in and there were talks late into the night last night to make sure everything was ready to go."

Farmers have been particularly badly hit by the severe weather - suffering livestock fatalities and damaged properties. There have been calls for a compensation package to be agreed.

Ms O'Neill said she would press for a hardship payment for farmers at a ministerial Executive meeting on Thursday.

The number of animals killed by the freak weather is unclear.

The emergency services, Red Cross, RAF and others are co-operating to provide basic supplies like bread and milk to people snowed in for days.

More than 140,000 Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) customers who lost power when the wintry blast struck the eastern counties of the region last Thursday and Friday have since had supply restored.

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