Northern Ireland rescue teams facing snow drifts up to 18ft

PSNI Chief Inspector Tim Mairs describes the operation amid deep snow.

Related Stories

Specialist rescue teams have been deployed to help vulnerable people at risk or isolated because of the heavy snow across Northern Ireland.

Police said they monitored more than 30 such incidents on Saturday and deployed rescuers to assist 10 people in need.

The PSNI said some rescuers had to walk for miles through heavy snow to reach housebound people in some rural areas.

Chief Inspector Tim Mairs said people were confronted with "possibly 12 to 18ft drifts of snow" in some places.

Airlift
North West Mountain Rescue team The North West Mountain Rescue team was one of a number of organisations involved in the operation

The police said they were working closely with mountain rescue volunteers and other statutory emergency staff to provide assistance to people in difficulty due to the extreme weather.

The RAF has also sent a Sea King helicopter, with a military mountain rescue team on board, from Anglesey in Wales to assist the rescue operation.

The PSNI said there had been a "multi-agency response" to the situation, with ambulance staff, firefighters, Road Service, local councils, electricity providers, health providers, the Red Cross and rescue volunteers "working closely together to help individuals".

Meanwhile, thousands of people are still without power due to damage to the electricity network and roads in many areas are blocked.

Ch Insp Mairs said in one of the 10 more serious incidents, rescue teams had to airlift oxygen to a 79-year-old man.

'Weak and frail'

The officer said the pensioner had been snowed in, had no electricity and no means of getting further oxygen supplies.

"Several attempts were made by local police to get to the man but the road was impassable," the chief inspector said.

"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."

Heavy snow on road in Northern Ireland The rescue teams have had to battle through deep snow to reach those in need

Ch Insp Mairs said that in other cases, search and rescue teams were "going in on foot, using snow shoes to walk in, sometimes over miles and miles to provide medication to vulnerable people, to check that people who we've lost contact with are still alive".

'Immense bravery'

"Those operations are going on right now as we speak and they have been ongoing over the last two days," he added.

Ch Insp Mairs said the rescue effort represented "immense bravery and commitment" on the part of the volunteers and staff involved.

"What they are going through is challenging and its physically exhausting and many of these people have worked exceptionally long hours, but they do it in very safe way and their commitment is very high," he added.

"At the moment I am personally humbled by the way these people step up every time and work in horrendous conditions to bring help and assistance to those who we identify as being at risk".

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Northern Ireland stories

RSS

BBC News NI Live

  1.  
    15:19: More Belfast to Dublin delays:

    AA Roadwatch tweets that a truck has jack-knifed on the M1 from Belfast to Dublin between junction five and junction four at Donabate.

    There is already serious disruption on the Belfast to Dublin road as the A1 is closed after a fatal crash this morning.

     
  2.  
    15:09: New Stormont departments announced:

    First Minister Peter Robinson has formally announced the names of the nine new Stormont departments that will replace the current 12 in 2016.

    Stormont talks
     
  3.  
    15:00: Power back on: Northern Ireland Electricity

    NIE say that 25,000 customers have had their power restored in the Ballymena area after a fault this morning.

    It says that three customers are still have no power because of a broken overhead line.

     
  4.  
    14:50: Man dies in A1 crash:

    Police say a man in his 50s has died following a two-car collision on the A1 between Dromore and Banbridge this morning.

    A1

    The A1 remains closed in both directions.

     
  5.  
    14:40: Harrington in the hunt: BBC Sport NI

    Padraig Harrington is one off the lead in the final round of the Honda Classic in Florida.

    Padraig Harrington

    He sits on five under with six holes to play, one shot behind joint leaders Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter. You can follow the live scoreboard on the PGA Tour website.

     
  6.  
    14:31: Industrial action planned

    Public sector workers who belong to the GMB union have voted for industrial action on 13 March over proposed cuts in the public sector in Northern Ireland.

    There are GMB union members in Translink, in education, in the Northern Ireland civil service, in the road service, the rivers agency, the forestry service and the Northern Ireland environment agency.

     
  7.  
    14:20: A1 diversions:

    Diversions remains in place on the A1 in both directions following a two-vehicle crash between Dromore and Banbridge in County Down.

    A1 crash

    The diversion on the southbound route is highly localised while northbound lanes remain closed, with traffic being diverted onto the Blackskull Road.

     
  8.  
    14:18: Car cleared from Westlink

    Trafficwatch NI reports that the broken down car on the Westlink towards the M1 has now been cleared and traffic has returned to normal.

     
  9.  
    14:14: FIFA tribute to penalty inventor:

    BBC Talkback tweets that FIFA has agreed to pay to refurbish the grave of William McCrum - the County Armagh man who first proposed the penalty kick.

    William McCrum

    As a feature from our archive explains, the Milford man was to create what would become the bane of many a manager's life.

     
  10.  
    14:05: Irish high five: BBC Sport

    Jeremy Guscott has included five Irish players in his Six Nations team of the week.

    Team of the Week

    In his review of the weekend he says Ireland are playing "World Cup winning rugby", but that Wales are favourites for their game in just less than two weeks.

     
  11.  
    13:55: Winter spring?

    It's officially spring - not that you'd know judging from all the snow that landed on our doorsteps this morning.

    Spring snow

    It means some parts of Northern Ireland were looking more winter wonderland than sunny springtime. Clockwise from top is County Antrim (thanks Alistair Hamill), Clady in County Armagh and Ballyclare.

     
  12.  
    13:45: McGuinness challenges Kenny:

    Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has called on Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny to engage on proposals for an all-island process to address the handling of cases of sexual abuse during the Troubles.

    Martin McGuinness, Enda Kenny and Peter Robinson paid tribute to the late Brian Lenihan

    Martin McGuinness said: "I have yet to receive a satisfactory reply to the proposals or even a detailed response or discussion on how to proceed on this matter."

     
  13.  
    13:41: Westlink delays:

    BBC NI Travel tweets:

    Westlink
     
  14.  
    13:35: Churches call for donors:

    Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin and Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke are launching a new 'Flesh and Blood Ireland' campaign to help increase the number of blood and organ donors.

    Donor card

    People who have given or received blood or organs in the past will be at today's launch at St Patrick's Catholic cathedral in Armagh city.

     
  15.  
    13:26: Women's rugby growing:

    Ireland are bidding to host the Women's Rugby World Cup in 2017 and no wonder - the women's game has grown hugely in recent years.

    Ireland Women's Rugby

    BBC Sport's Patrick Gearey looks at how the game has developed and what's next for the successful Irish team.

     
  16.  
    13:17: SDLP backs Elliott's Bill:

    BBC News NI political correspondent Gareth Gordon tweets:

    SDLP

    Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott plans to introduce legislation to prevent public facilities being named after people convicted of terror offences.

     
  17.  
    13:10: Women's rugby world cup bid:

    The Irish Rugby Football Union has announced that it has submitted a bid to host the Women's Rugby World Cup in August 2017 at locations in Dublin and Belfast.

    A view of the redeveloped Ravenhill

    Irish Rugby intends to host the tournament pool stages at University College Dublin before moving to Belfast for semi-finals and finals at Queen's University Sport and the newly developed Kingspan Stadium.

     
  18.  
    13:06: Fewer MLAs mooted:

    First Minister Peter Robinson tweets:

    MLA reductions
     
  19.  
    13:02: Jack-knifed lorry fire:

    Police say a small fire broke out in the cab of a lorry that jack-knifed on the Slievenaboley road in Dromara, County Down. The fire was caused by an electrical fault in the engine.

    Dromara

    The fire service attended the scene and put the blaze out. The driver was not injured.

     
  20.  
    12:55: MP says businesses leaving east Belfast: Belfast Telegraph

    The Belfast Telegraph reports that East Belfast MP Naomi Long says business owners are leaving east Belfast to set up elsewhere because of the level of control loyalist paramilitaries have in the area.

    Outline of mural on gable wall

    Ms Long said that jobs and financial investment have been lost because a number of employers felt they had no other choice but to sell up.

     
  21.  
    12:47: Departments streamlined:

    BBC News NI political editor Mark Devenport tweets:

    NI departments
     
  22.  
    12:40: Desertcreat concern:

    A delegation from Cookstown has given a letter of concern over the long-delayed Desertcreat training college to the first and deputy first ministers.

    Desertcreat letter of concern

    Cookstown District Council tweeted a photo of the group handing over the letter to Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness.

     
  23.  
    12:30: A1 southbound traffic moving:

    BBC News NI reporter Mervyn Jess reports from the scene of the A1 crash that traffic has started to move southbound.

    A1 delays

    The northbound lanes, where the two-car collision happened, remain closed.

     
  24.  
    12:24: Footage of A1 crash: Conor Macauley BBC News NI

    Here's footage of the scene on the A1 at Banbridge where a two-vehicle crash has closed the road in both directions.

    A1 Crash
     
  25.  
    12:21: Civil service redundancy scheme:

    BBC News NI political editor Mark Devenport tweets:

    Mark Devenport
     
  26.  
    12:09: A1 crash:

    BBC News NI's @tvconormac is at the scene of a crash on A1 northbound at Dromore. The road is closed on both directions.

    A1 crash
     
  27.  
    11:58: SA wary of Ireland: BBC Sport NI

    Former Ireland coach Adrian Birrell says South Africa are fully aware of the threat Ireland will pose in Tuesday's World Cup match in Canberra.

    Ed Joyce

    The 54-year-old was in charge of the Irish at the 2007 World Cup when they reached the Super Eight stage.

     
  28.  
    11:47: Anything to declare? BBC Talkback

    On BBC Talkback today - should police officers have to declare if they are members of the Orange Order?

    Talkback

    We'll be talking to the DUP's Jonathan Craig, the SDLP's Dolores Kelly and Dr David Hume from the Orange Order. Let us know your views by tweeting @BBCTalkback and calling 08459555678.

     
  29.  
    11:35: A1 diversions: BBC NI Travel

    There are long queues in both directions on the A1 after a crash between Banbridge and Dromore. There are diversions in place at Blackskull Road on the northbound route and through Dromore on the southbound.

    A1 lorries

    BBC News NI's Conor Macauley sends us this photo of lorries going back to Banbridge, unable to drive the northbound diversion route.

     
  30.  
    11:24: Teenagers in illegal street parties: Belfast Telegraph

    The Belfast Telegraph reports that more than 200 teenagers who gathered in north Belfast to drink and party came from as far away as Bangor.

    Police had to deal with the huge crowd on Friday night in what was the latest in a spate of illegal outdoor parties in the city being organised on social media.

     
  31.  
    11:10: More snow forecast: Barra Best BBC News NI Weather Presenter

    BBC News NI weather presenter Barra Best tweets: More snow and ice expected in places on Monday night. A warning has been issued by @metoffice

    Snow warning
     
  32.  
    11:00: Lorry overturned

    Carson Harte has sent us this picture of an overturned lorry on the Slievenaboley road in Dromara, County Down.

    Overturned lorry
     
  33.  
    10:54: The search continues... Ciaran Daly BBC News NI

    Our colleagues at BBC Earth are running a live blog where they're searching for signs of spring. and asking people to send in their pictures to reflect the new season.

    Flowers

    After the snowy weather we've had across Northern Ireland this morning, it seems like our search for spring is going to continue for some time yet but if you do spot anything give them a shout.

     
  34.  
    10:44: £13m contract for NI firm: Clodagh Rice BBC News NI

    Belfast building contractor Gilbert Ash has been awarded a £13m contract to refurbish and extend the National Army Museum in Chelsea.

    Gilbert Ash

    The construction firm is aiming for the work to be completed in 2016.

     
  35.  
    10:40: A1 queues: Conor Macauley BBC News NI

    BBC News NI's Conor Macauley tweets: Long queues A1 northbound after bad crash between Banbridge and Dromore.

    Traffic queues
     
  36.  
    10:33: Motorists diverted: Portadown Times

    The Portadown Times reports that hundreds of motorists were forced to divert after a one-vehicle collision just outside Portadown this morning.

    police

    The crash happened close to Stonebridge roundabout on the Portadown Road, Richhill, County Armagh.

     
  37.  
    10:27: Jay collects goal of the month award:

    The 11-year-old boy from County Armagh who won the Scottish Premiership goal of the month award for January was presented with his honour during half-time of Celtic's home game against Aberdeen.

    Jay Beatty

    Jay Beatty, from Lurgan, hit the back of the net at half-time during Celtic's victory over Hamilton Academical.

     
  38.  
    10:16: School closure:

    St. Mary's Primary school in Maghera, County Londonderry, is closed due to snow.

    You can find a full list of school closures in Northern Ireland here.

     
  39.  
    10:13: Winning weekend: BBC Sport NI

    An Irish rugby team beat an English rugby team for the second time in one weekend yesterday when the men's side won 19-9. On Friday, Ireland's women defeated world champions England 11-8 at Ashbourne.

    A delighted Lisa Muldoon celebrates her try which made it 8-8 at Ashbourne

    The achievements of the women are every bit as impressive as the men but women still face sexism within sport, even when they are coaching (and winning) in the men's game.

     
  40.  
    10:04: Another road closed:

    Church Road in Holywood has been closed because of a collision.

     
  41.  
    09:57: Power mostly restored:

    Electricity has been restored to most of the homes in and around Ballymena that were without supply for a while this morning.

    NIE engineers were called to a fault at its main substation in Ballymena. Around 20 customers are still without power.

     
  42.  
    09:54: Ireland on track for Rio: BBC Sport NI

    Ireland's hockey players have kept their Olympics qualification campaign on track by beating Austria 3-1 in their second World League 2 match in San Diego.

    Michael Watt was on target for Ireland against Austria

    Having already hammered Chile 8-0, the Irish face Italy in their final pool game and look set to top their section.

     
  43.  
    09:45: Snowfall near the Foyle: Keiron Tourish BBC News NI

    BBC News NI reporter Keiron Tourish has sent us some snaps of the snowfall near Londonderry.

    Snow in Derry

    You can send us your pictures by emailing bbcnewsni@bbc.co.uk.

     
  44.  
    09:37: Accident causing diversions: BBC NI Travel

    Traffic is heavily congested on the A1 northbound with vehicles being diverted onto Blackskull Road after a serious two-car collision outside Dromore, County Down. Police have suggested leaving the A1 at Banbridge, travelling to Moira and onto the M1 from there.

    The A1 is also closed southbound with traffic being diverted through Dromore town.

     
  45.  
    09:28: Fleadh encore bid: Derry Journal

    The Derry Journal reports that councillors in Londonderry are bidding to bring the all-Ireland fleadh back to Derry.

    Fleadh crowds in Waterloo Street
     
  46.  
    09:19: Mother won't face charges: Irish News

    The Irish News reports that a mother whose five-year-old daughter was pictured with a sectarian slogan written on her forehead will not be prosecuted.

     
  47.  
    09:07: Delays near Newtownabbey: Newtownabbey Times

    The Newtownabbey Times reports that snow is causing long tailbacks on many roads across the Newtownabbey borough.

    Snow in Newtownabbey
     
  48.  
    09:03: Power cut update: Northern Ireland Electricity

    Two thousand homes are still without power in Cullybackey, County Antrim. All other areas that had been affected by a power cut this morning have had their service restored.

     
  49.  
    09:01: Primary school closed due to power cut:

    Gracehill Primary School in Ballymena, County Antrim is closed due to power cuts in the area.

     
  50.  
    09:00: Road closed due to accident:

    PSNI Holywood tweets:

    Holywood
     
  51.  
    08:56: Rocky Road closed:

    Rocky Road in east Belfast is closed due to the weather.

     
  52.  
    08:53: Crawling traffic: BBC NI Travel

    There is a long crawling line of traffic from Richhill roundabout to Portadown. Traffic is moving at about five mph.

     
  53.  
    08:53: Rangers chairman steps down: BBC Sport

    David Somers has resigned as Rangers chairman only days before his future in the position was due to be voted on by shareholders.

    David Somers

    The move was confirmed in a statement to the Stock Exchange on Monday. An extraordinary general meeting is being held at Ibrox on Friday, when the future of the current board is to be decided.

     
  54.  
    08:48: Flight diverted:

    A Flybe flight from Manchester airport to George Best Belfast City airport was diverted to Belfast International airport this morning due to weather conditions.

    Diverted flight
     
  55.  
    08:36: Snow snaps:

    Thanks for sending us in your snow pictures. From Carrickfergus to north Belfast to Portadown, it seems the white stuff has been lying across the country this morning.

    Snow 2 March 2015

    Working clockwise from the top: The BBC's own Arthur Strain sends us his picture of Carrickfergus, Ellie Gaston captured the icy conditions in Ardoyne, Paul Cornett sends us snowy scenes at Portadown railway station and Grace has sent us a snap of Glengormley.

     
  56.  
    08:35: More school closures:

    Markethill Primary school in County Armagh is now closed due to snow, as is Milltown Primary school in Banbridge in County Down.

     
  57.  
    08:34: Thousands without power: Northern Ireland Electricity

    Several thousand homes and businesses are without power in the Ballymena and Portglenone areas of County Antrim.

    There is a fault at the main substation in the area. Engineers are on their way.

     
  58.  
    08:29: School closure:

    Markethill High School in County Armagh is closed due to snow.

     
  59.  
    08:25: 25 new jobs at software firm: Clodagh Rice BBC News NI

    A Newry-based tech company that makes workflow management software for smartphones has created 25 new jobs since the start of 2015.

    Collection of smartphones

    In the past two years, Fieldmotion has gone from employing five people to more than 30 across sales, marketing and operations. The company expects further growth in 2015.

     
  60.  
    08:16: Serious collision diverts traffic: PSNI

    Due to a serious two-vehicle collision between Dromore and Banbridge, traffic is being diverted onto the Blackskull Road. Long delays expected.

     
  61.  
    08:14: Power cuts: Northern Ireland Electricity

    There are power cuts in Ahoghill, Cullybackey and Ballymena in County Antrim.

     
  62.  
    08:13: Belfast tiger: Mark Simpson BBC News NI

    How has an Indian tiger skin that used to belong to the Maharaja of Bundi ended up in East Belfast for the last 50 years?

    Shot tiger

    Ruth Shaw, a young woman from Castlereagh got more than she ever thought possible from a pen pal in the in late 1950s. You can get the full story on BBC Newsline this evening at 18:30.

     
  63.  
    08:04: Snow havoc on roads

    PSNI Road Policing tweets:

    Snow on the roads
     
  64.  
    08:02: Frampton wants Quigg fight:

    Belfast's Carl Frampton wants a fight with WBA champion Scott Quigg following Frampton's first successful defence of his IBF super-bantamweight title.

    Carl Frampton

    Frampton, 28, stopped Californian Chris Avalos midway through the fifth round of the contest at the Odyssey Arena.

     
  65.  
    08:01: Snowy spring:

    BBC News NI's intrepid weather man Barra Best has braved the conditions on the roof of BBC's Broadcasting House to show you the snowy conditions around Belfast at the minute.

    Snow in Armagh

    You can watch Barra's vine here. Thanks to Nicola K for sending in her picture of the snow in Armagh above.

     
  66.  
    07:53: Winter clings on: Barra Best BBC News NI Weather Presenter

    Prepare yourself for a chilly day as winter clings on. A weather warning is in place as there are some icy conditions and snow showers.

    Snow and ice 2 March 2015

    Temperatures will manage just 3C or 4C but with westerly winds it'll feel colder than that. There could be a risk of further ice and snow tonight especially in the north and west.

     
  67.  
    07:49: Burst water main

    NI Water are dealing with a burst water main on the King's Bridge in south Belfast as a high priority.

    Burst pipe

    NI Water says it has known of a fault in the area for some time and a part required to fix the issue is on its way. No customers are off supply but for that to remain the case, NI Water cannot turn off the burst mains pipe.

     
  68.  
    07:46: Snow on M1: BBC NI Travel

    Lots of snow lying on the M1 between J11 & J15, it's also bad at J8 Blaris with delays from there right the way through to Broadway.

     
  69.  
    07:43: Blizzard conditions: Conor Macauley BBC News NI

    BBC News NI's Conor Macauley tweets: Blizzard in Banbridge.

    Blizzard Banbridge

    Send us your snow pics by emailing bbcnewsni@bbc.co.uk.

     
  70.  
    07:43: Two vehicle collision:

    Motorists should expect delays northbound on the A1 between Banbridge and Dromore near the Halfway House due to a two-vehicle collision.

     
  71.  
    07:39: Drug driving tests:

    A new law to target drug driving comes into force in parts of the UK today - but not Northern Ireland.

    Gary McCutcheon from Randox Testing Services has just told Good Morning Ulster that introducing the law here could save lives.

     
  72.  
    07:36: Crash in the snow:

    BBC NI Travel tweets:

    crash
     
  73.  
    07:24: Snow on the roads:

    BBC Travel NI tweets:

    Snow 2 March 2015
     
  74.  
    07:17: Burst water main

    A water main has burst on Governors Bridge in the Stranmillis area of south Belfast.

    Burst pipe Stranmillis
     
  75.  
    07:11: Civil service redundancy scheme opens:

    An application process opens on Monday for volunteers for redundancy from the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

    graphic

    The executive is seeking to close around 2,400 posts between September and next March. The intention is to save almost £90m per year in salaries.

     
  76.  
    07:05: Naming ban bid:

    The Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott plans to introduce legislation to prevent publicly funded facilities being named after people convicted of terror offences.

    Tom Elliott

    He will launch a private member's bill later today.

     
  77.  
    07:02: Ireland's experience was key: BBC Sport NI

    Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says the fact his side had more experience in their ranks proved crucial in their Six Nations win over England in Dublin.

    Paul O'Connell

    The 19-9 victory keeps the Irish on course for a possible Grand Slam.

     
  78.  
    07:00: Family of eye injury man hopeful

    The father of a man who was injured in an explosion in south Armagh has said he should find out this week if his eye can be saved.

    Frank McCabe

    Francis McCabe Junior suffered injuries to his chest and face in the blast outside Crossmaglen on Wednesday.

     
  79.  
    07:00: Good morning! Ciaran Daly BBC News NI

    Good morning and welcome to BBC News NI Live on Monday 2 March. We'll be bringing you all of the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across Northern Ireland up until 19:00 this evening.

     

Features

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.