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Northern Ireland crisis talks as 32,000 are still without water

People in Northern Ireland have been warned that water supplies may not be restored before next week, as ministers prepared for crisis talks about the 32,000 residents still affected.

As two hospitals reported supply problems, Martin McGuinness, the deputy First Minister, warned people needed to be held accountable after pregnant mothers, families with young children and the elderly were without water for days.

Around an extra 250m litres are being pumped into the system every day, Northern Ireland Water said yesterday, but most of it is being lost in leakages. Speaking about the company's handling of the situation, Mr McGuinness said: "It has been shambolic at stages, it has been ineffective, it has not been the kind of organisation that has been fit for purpose."

Temperatures in Northern Ireland hit a pre-Christmas record of -18C and were followed by a dramatic thaw, causing thousands of burst pipes.