Storms looming as snow claims three more victims

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The Independent Online
IAN MACKINNON

Freezing temperatures across most of Britain yesterday made snow clearance from countless blocked roads slow going as forecasters warned of high winds and further falls over the next two days.

New snow in some parts added to the chaos that saw the emergency services stretched to the point where the Army had to be called in to bring help to hospitals and the elderly in one part of Scotland.

Torrential rain across the south of England brought its own problems with the emphasis expected to switch to the extremely stormy conditions followed by snow tonight and tomorrow.

The coldest place in Britain was at Madley, in Hereford and Worcester, where temperatures dropped to minus 11.3C , ensuring the 15cm of snow which had fallen had no chance of melting.

Two people died when their vehicles collided on black ice on the A15 at Waddingham near Lincoln, closing the road for part of the day while police cleared the wreckage. Another man died after his BMW overturned in treacherous weather conditions on the A3 near Petersfield, Hants, on Tuesday night.

Electricity company officials in Wales warned against going near fallen power lines after a 16-year-old boy, received a shock while playing in a field near Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan.

Around 5,000 homes in the region were blacked out for much of the day, 3,300 of them in rural West Wales where snow-blocked roads are hampering the repair operation.

Officials from the Brecon Beacons National Park placed their four-wheel drive vehicles at the disposal of Powys County Council's social services department to enable staff to reach the elderly or disabled.

In Scotland, where the snow falls during the day were heaviest, 28 soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders with six four-wheel drive vehicles were sent to take care workers to the homes of the elderly and help out in hospitals at Dumfries.

Three RAF helicopters were drafted in from Northern Ireland to augment the regular search and rescue aircraft and joined reconnaissance flights looking for people trapped in their homes.

Their main task was to identify stranded people in rural areas, needing help but with no phone lines.

Police urged them to lay out a signal that would be visible from the air, a large V for urgent help and an X for urgent medical help.

While the south-bound carriageway of the A74 remained officially closed convoys of lorries, some which had been stranded for 36 hours, were led southwards by police.

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