Burst pipe cuts water supply to thousands

Around 3,000 homes and businesses were left without water in Yorkshire yesterday after a burst on a major pipe supplying a pumping station.

Yorkshire Water said it hoped to fix the problem in the Thirsk area swiftly, after customers found at around 8.30am that their supplies had been cut. A by-pass had been put into place on Thursday night, but when customers demanded water in greater amounts yesterday morning, the system could not cope.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland's under-fire water authorities have fought off resignation calls over the crisis in water supplies. Senior figures from Northern Ireland Water (NIW) emerged from a special board meeting yesterday to say their priority was to fix the leaks that have crippled the supply system.

Interim chairman Padraic White said the chief executive, Laurence MacKenzie, had not resigned, despite growing pressure, but that an independent review should take place. Mr White said the immediate focus was on restoring supplies: "It is easy to create a frenzy but it is not helpful."

He added that 4,400 customers were without water yesterday, down from 7,000 on Thursday, and said reservoirs were gradually refilling across the province. However Belfast reservoirs remained in a "precarious position".

Louth County Council in the Irish Republic will deliver at least 100,000 litres of drinking water a day to the Newry area north of the border.