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Sunday, March 8, 1998 Published at 02:16 GMT


Snow, floods cause disruption
image: [ Police are warning people to travel only if their journey is absolutely necessary ]
Police are warning people to travel only if their journey is absolutely necessary

Around 1600 homes are still without electricity after appalling weather conditions caused severe problems in the north of Scotland.

[ image: Two men had to be rescued from a snowplough]
Two men had to be rescued from a snowplough
And in Wales, widespread flooding in the middle of the country caused mayhem on the roads and left thousands of acres of farmland under water.

Worst hit was the Welshpool area, where the River Severn burst its banks. Fire crews using boats rescued two people marooned in a cottage.

[ image: Areas in Wales have been hit by severe flooding]
Areas in Wales have been hit by severe flooding
In the Scottish Highlands, three men from England - described as experienced climbers - dug themselves into an ice bunker before leaving Coire an Sneachda in daylight.

Two other men, who spent the night on Coire an Lochan, also returned safely, before rescuers could begin searching for them.

And in a further twist, two snow plough drivers were trapped overnight after their vehicle broke down 12 miles north of Lairg. They were rescued by an RAF team.

Ronnie Brown, from Scottish Hydro-Electric, gives BBC Radio 5 Live the latest at 20:30 (GMT) on Saturday (1'06")
Weather forecasters warned temperatures could drop to below freezing with the cold snap continuing until Monday. But blizzards were expected to die out by Sunday.

This forecast gave hope to thousands left in the cold after electricity cables failed.

[ image: Powers workers have been battling against the weather]
Powers workers have been battling against the weather
Ronnie Brown, Scottish Hydro-Electric's Operations Manager, said engineers were "working flat out" to restore supplies, but efforts had been hampered by continuing blizzards and snowdrifts on roads.

He said: "It took some of our engineers in the Dingwall area up to an hour just to dig themselves out of their homes this morning. They can't even get near some of the faults.

"Some of the damage is quite significant, especially in the Caithness and Easter Ross areas, where there are up to 12 faults on some of the lines.

"It's not quite as bad further south though and we've managed to reconnect supplies in Wester Ross and Ullapool."

He said the worst affected areas were Dingwall, Angus, and parts of Banff and Buchan.

[ image: Farmers could struggle to feed their animals]
Farmers could struggle to feed their animals
In Wales homes were also at risk, with the Environment Agency warning the River Wye at Hereford was at serious red danger level, along with the River Towy at Abergwili and the River Ely at St Fagans near Cardiff.

Nearly a dozen other rivers in Wales are on amber alert with a possible threat of flooding to low-lying land and nearby properties.

Hopes of improvement in Scotland

ScotRail reported services were improving with delays on the main Inverness line reduced to 10 minutes.

Many roads in Highland region, and four in the Aberdeen area, were still closed to traffic.

Police warned motorists to venture out only if their journey was absolutely necessary.

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