Up to 30,000 homes still without electricity
Up to 30,000 homes remained without power last night after one of the worst storms ever to hit Northern Ireland.
An estimated 100,000 premises suffered power cuts over the ‘24 hours from hell’, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said.
And in Scotland the town of of Cleghorn, South Lanarkshire, was mourning the death of a schoolgirl killed in a coach crash amid “horrendous” weather conditions were last night astounded that the bus had been allowed to travel.
Natasha Paton (17) died as a coach plunged off an icy bridge during a snowstorm and into a river, throwing the girl from the vehicle and coming to rest on top of her.
Northern Ireland Electricity revealed that it had been forced to bring in more than 150 engineers from the Republic and Britain after electricity poles were smashed “like matchsticks” under the weight of the snow. Large areas of counties Tyrone, Londonderry and Antrim were lashed by blizzards, heavy rain and winds on Tuesday night.
NIE said last night: “Damage to the network remains extensive with hundreds of faults still to be dealt with. The worst affected areas remain Omagh, Londonderry, Coleraine and Ballymoney. In those areas restoration of supplies is likely to take days.
“Northern Ireland Electricity has deployed all available resources on fault location and repairs. Around 70 additional fault repair contractors have been brought in from the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain.
“Almost 100 other engineers and linesmen will be travelling tonight and will be ready to start work tomorrow morning.”
NIE warned that some homes could remain cut off for days, following the ice storm.
“The last time we had an ice storm in Northern Ireland was 10 years ago and it was concentrated in the Downpatrick area. This went right across Northern Ireland so it was on a whole different scale. This was the worst we have ever experienced,” spokeswoman Sara McClintock said.
Up to 300 people were rescued from the Glenshane Pass on Tuesday night after snowdrifts of up to a metre deep overwhelmed vehicles. Police, coastguard, mountain rescue crews from Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, plus roads service staff from the Department of Environment launched a joint operation, moving motorists and passengers to a leisure centre in Limavady.
The Met Office issued a further severe weather warning for last night into today, although not as high an alert as the previous 24 hours. Members of the public were warned to take care and consult Traffic Watch for further advice on road conditions.
“Widespread ice is likely to form on untreated roads and pavements, especially where showers have recently fallen,” the Met Office said.
A series of roads remained closed last night due to extreme weather conditions, including the A20 at Greyabbey; the A43 Glenariff Road (Waterfoot) and B14 Ballyeomon Road (Cushendall); the B69 Barnailt Road between Claudy and Limavady; the Murley Road between Fivemiletown and Fintona; B47 Glenelly Road between Plumbridge and Draperstown beyond Cranagh village; and Glenedra Road at Altinure towards Draperstown.
Roads Service manager Colin Brown said: “The weather last night across Northern Ireland was unprecedented in my experience.
“Nonetheless, in Roads Service we have been out all night and continue to do so.”
Last night, Belfast International Airport said flights are now largely operating to schedule.