Motorists and children trapped by blizzards

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of vehicles and up to 1,000 people were stranded on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, last night as white-out conditions swept across Britain, killing at least two people and injuring dozens.

The police and Royal Marines used helicopters and heavy-lifting equipment to rescue about 150 motorists, who had been stranded in freezing conditions after an accident blocked the A30 trunk road. Many other motorists have also been trapped across the region.

Vehicles had become trapped on the A30 between Kennards House and Bodmin following an accident. The rescued motorists were taken to six rest centres across the county. Among those stranded were an 80-year-old woman and a one-month-old child.

In Newquay, north Cornwall, 300 children from the Treviglas Community College were rescued by tractors and four-wheel drive vehicles after they had been snowed in for most of the day without food and water until an RAF helicopter managed to fly in emergency supplies.

Other schools faced similar problems. A county council spokesman said up to 2,000 children had been trapped at different locations until parents could get through to fetch them, and supplies had been being sent in for those facing a long wait.

Around the country, blizzards and fallen snow closed schools, blocked roads, delayed travellers and caused many minor accidents.

Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and south-west England were worst hit, with police reporting a spate of crashes on treacherous roads and lorries getting stuck in heavy snow.

In Cornwall, a motorcyclist was killed on the A394 between Sithney and Breague, near Porthleven.

An elderly man is believed to have died from a heart attack brought on by hypothermia near Bath in Somerset. His body was discovered in his car on the A420 at Tog Hill.

More than 70 schools were closed across Devon and Cornwall after a foot of snow fell overnight on Dartmoor, forcing police to set up a shuttle service using 4x4 vehicles to get staff to work at Dartmoor prison.

In Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, dozens of schools were closed and an RAF Hercules was scrambled from Lyneham to rescue a critically ill baby girl from Ireland.

Kerry Ann O'Riordan, aged eight weeks, needed emergency hospital treatment after suffering a severe bout of whooping-cough, but when blizzard conditions grounded helicopters, a Hercules transport plane was sent to Cork to take her to Glenfields Hospital, Leicester. Doctors described her condition as "critical, but stable".

In Wales, more than 460 schools were forced to close.

Further north, in Aberdeenshire, more than 4,000 homes had their electricity supply cut off.

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