[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 March, 2005, 17:30 GMT
Army called in to cope with snow
Snow in Crowborough
The snow caused chaos on the roads in Kent and Sussex
The Army has been drafted in to help deal with disruption caused by heavy snow across the South East of England.

Hundreds of schools were closed in Kent and Sussex, roads were shut and bus and train services cancelled.

The Army helped the NHS move staff and patients in Kent as conditions worsened but has now been stood down.

The Highways Agency said it had acted quickly to get gritters out on all major roads but East Sussex County Council admitted it was caught out.

Heavy showers expected

More than 300 schools across Kent and Sussex were closed on Wednesday.

Some trains have been running up to 30 minutes late while others have been cancelled and Stagecoach has cancelled all its bus services in the Thanet area.

I didn't think there was any chance of snow overnight, but that all changed, obviously.
East Sussex County Councillor Keith Glazier

In Kent, huge queues of traffic have built up in areas including the M20 and around Detling Hill near Sittingbourne and at Bluebell Hill near Rochester.

Army spokesman Paul Beard said: "We've received requests both from Kent Police and from the National Health Service for assistance in actually moving people around.

"So what we're doing is providing four wheel drive Land Rovers, coming from our barracks at Maidstone and at Shorncliffe.

"In addition to helping transfer patients from one hospital to another and so on, we're also assisting police with security."

Snow in a park in Tunbridge Wells
The snow brought scenic views as well as disruption

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said two Army vehicles had also been put at the police's disposal in case they were needed.

Kent County Council spokesman Nicky Bullett said after seeing the weather forecast at 2200 GMT on Tuesday night the council made sure all primary roads in the county were gritted by 0600 GMT.

But East Sussex County Councillor Keith Glazier admitted: "I came in last night and it was raining and I didn't think there was any chance of snow overnight, but that all changed, obviously.

"The gritters couldn't have been out in time because the weather changed so quickly."

Kate Woods from the Highways Agency said: "Obviously, with heavy snow showers expected to continue across Kent and Sussex throughout the day all roads have been pre-salted.

"All other gritters are on standby and we are making sure that all motorways and trunk roads will remain open during periods of ice and snow, to the best of our ability."

See the chaos caused by the bad weather

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific