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The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"The advice is not to venture outside"
 real 56k

The BBC's Catherine Marston
"The North of England has been struggling to cope"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 17:27 GMT
Big freeze chaos in north
Snow conditions in Scotland
Snow has swept down from Scotland to northern England
Heavy snowfall and gales have left thousands in Scotland and Ireland without power - and are threatening to wreak havoc in northern England.

An estimated 100,000 homes in Scotland, and 70,000 in Northern Ireland had no electricity at one point on Tuesday, with engineers struggling to make repairs.

The M8, Scotland's busiest motorway, was blocked completely for more than 10 hours, with hundreds of motorists stranded in their cars.

And 70 rail passengers were forced to abandon their journey from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow, 18 hours after their journey started.

Stranded

They were on board a ScotRail sleeper service which left London on Monday night.

At 0600GMT on Tuesday the train ground to a halt just north of Lockerbie, stuck behind a broken-down freight engine.

The passenger service was moved back to Carlisle and the passengers transferred to a hotel in the town but deteriorating road conditions mean they face the prospect of being stranded in the town overnight.

A ScotRail spokesman said: "The passengers are now being put up in a hotel and we will see what we can do to move them."


The big problem we are having at the moment is actually getting our engineers out to some of the areas which are affected because of the state of the roads

Scottish Power Spokesman
The storm - described by weathermen as one of the most severe in recent memory - hit northern England on Tuesday morning.

In Scotland, many roads, airports and railways have been closed by the weather, as the snowfall was driven into huge drifts by high winds.

Missing walker

There is still no sign of a walker missing for two nights in sub-zero temperatures in the mountains north of Glasgow.

Traffic jam in snow
Delays are predicted
Virtually all parts of Scotland are affected, and Virgin has cancelled all train services to and from England. GNER is stopping services at Newcastle.

Virgin Spokesman Jim Rowe said: "We've had reports that snow was up to the level of the platform in certain areas."

And although the chaos in many parts of England is not yet as severe as in Scotland, the weatherman warn that it looks likely to get worse.

A spokesman for Scottish Power said 200 engineers had been working overnight and another 200 were being called in help reconnect supplies.

He said: "The big problem we are having at the moment is actually getting our engineers out to some of the areas which are affected because of the state of the roads."

No respite

The storms are forecast to continue for the next couple of days.

Man digs car out of snow
Hundreds of motorists were stranded
Driving conditions in Northern Ireland and Scotland are hazardous with the police advising drivers to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

Police in Northern Ireland described the conditions as "treacherous," all the more so because many traffic lights are not working.

Nationwide freeze

The Meteorological Office on Tuesday morning issued an emergency flash warning of "exceptionally severe weather."

By Wednesday the whole country is expected to be subject to freezing temperatures, with snow and sleet expected across much of central, southern and eastern areas of England.

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See also:

27 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Severe weather disruption hits NI
27 Feb 01 | Scotland
Snow problems: Scotland in pictures
27 Feb 01 | Scotland
Snow-hit Scotland grinds to a halt
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