Northern Ireland to import water

The authorities in Northern Ireland came in for heavy criticism yesterday after water shortages affected tens of thousands of homes, some of which have had no running water for a week.

A thaw following days of cold weather brought thousands of burst pipes and other problems. At one point 40,000 homes were without water.

The Northern Ireland Executive yesterday accepted an offer from Scotland to provide 160,000 litres of drinking water.

An emergency session of the executive yesterday promised urgent action and criticised Northern Ireland Water, the sole provider of water services.

Health experts expressed concern about the risks to old people and children. Liam Mulholland of Northern Ireland Water said: "It is understandable that people are angry. We are doing all we can."