Northern Ireland

Flooding follows heavy downpours in Northern Ireland

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Media captionTorrential rain brings floods

Parts of Northern Ireland have been experiencing flooding following a series of heavy downpours.

Police said most of the main arterial routes in east and south Belfast were impassable because of flood water, abandoned cars and debris.

The fire service said it had put extra resources in place, but urged people to avoid ringing the 999 service "unless there is an imminent life risk".

Northern Ireland Water said it received 2,800 calls on Wednesday evening.

Abandoned cars

About 1,000 homes in south Belfast were left without electricity for a time. Power has since been restored.

Roads affected by flooding in Belfast include:

  • Stockmans Lane: closed under flyover
  • Knock Road: closed between Castlereagh Road and Shandon Park
  • Upper Knockbreda Road / Cregagh Road closed
  • Finaghy Road North closed at M1 Bridge
  • Hillhall Road closed
  • Stewartstown Road / Twinbrook Road closed
  • Castlereagh Road / Loopland Park closed
  • Milltown Road / Belvoir Road: passable with care
  • Stockmans Lane under M1 Bridge: passable with care
  • Blacks Road under M1 Bridge: passable with care
  • Milltown Road / Belvoir Road: passable with care
  • Prince William Road / Lisburn North Feeder Road: passable with care

A police spokeswoman said motorists should not travel unless absolutely necessary.

"Motorists who have abandoned cars are asked not to return to their vehicles, for their own safety, at present," she said.

"Police are currently receiving a high level of calls which are being prioritised, and officers are working with all the relevant statutory agencies."

Belfast City Council has implemented its emergency response plan.

From 09:00 BST on Thursday, it will operate a freephone advice line on 0800 707 6965 for people living in Belfast whose homes have been flooded.

The fire service said that between 19:00 and 22:00 BST it was receiving a call on average every 20 seconds.

'Protracted operation'

Chief Fire Officer Chris Kerr said "My officers are currently deployed at a wide range of emergency incidents involving flooding, and they have rescued and removed a large number of people in difficult conditions."

He added: "Sadly, on arrival at many of these incidents we are finding considerable damage to residential and commercial property, and scenes of public distress.

"I can assure the public that NIFRS have the capacity and resources to sustain our response to what we envisage will be a protracted operation."

The coastguard and RNLI were also enlisted to help out in the operation.

BBC Northern Ireland reporter Mervyn Jess said some streets in east Belfast had been "turned into rivers" on Wednesday evening.

"The water has been rolling down in torrents from the Castlereagh hills, coming down the Ballygowan Road to the junction with the Castlereagh Road and the Knock dual carriageway," he said.

"Some parts are basically like a lake."

Cushendall in County Antrim was another area affected by the flooding, with fire appliances pumping water from the village centre into the river.

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