Vital oxygen airlifted to frail man
Published 24/03/2013 | 10:36
Emergency oxygen supplies have been airlifted to an elderly man in Northern Ireland trapped by heavy snow.
Police said he had no electricity and dwindling supplies and a police helicopter was used to deliver more cylinders to the 79-year-old at his home north of Belfast.
He was one of thousands of victims of blizzard conditions which have lashed the region over the weekend and caused snowdrifts up to 18 feet high.
A police spokesman said: "Several attempts were made by local police to get to the man but the road was impassable. The police helicopter was then tasked to airlift the casualty to hospital. However, the man was unable to be moved as he was so weak and frail, so the helicopter was then used to deliver vital oxygen."
He lives in the Newtownabbey area, Co Antrim, which is one of the most badly affected by storms.
It could be several days before services in remote areas of Northern Ireland are restored because of bad weather. Emergency crews worked constantly over the weekend to return electricity to thousands of homes cut off by the poor weather.
Many roads were blocked. At one stage water supplies dried up and an RAF helicopter transported mountain rescue teams to the most vulnerable. Some essential medications were carried on foot to marooned communities, police said.
Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Inspector Tim Mairs said: "This has been very sharp, extreme weather. We have to ensure that those people who are isolated do get access to heat, food and water."
Electricity repair crews were assisted by staff from the Republic of Ireland and Scotland but Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said it could be several days before power was restored to all customers.
The situation has improved for many since Saturday morning, when 35,000 electricity customers were cut off and up to 1,000 homes were without water. Northern Ireland Water said water supply has now been restored to most customers. Counties Down and Antrim in the east of Northern Ireland have been hardest hit.