Six year old boy latest big freeze victim

By Press Association Reporters
Sunday 08 February 2009 11:28

Britain prepared for more snow today as a six-year-old boy became the latest victim of the winter weather which began six days ago.

The child fell through ice at Red Lane, in Streethouse, near Pontefract, West Yorkshire yesterday afternoon.

A 12-year-old boy, thought to be the victim's brother, was rescued by a firefighter, while fire service divers pulled the younger boy out.

He was flown by air ambulance to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, where he died just after 7pm.

Other victims of the cold snap have been gifted A-level student Francesca Anobile, 16, who died after her makeshift sledge crashed through a barbed wire fence in Rotherham last Tuesday, and two walkers who ventured out in icy conditions in the Lake District.

More snow is due today as local authorities sought to calm fears that a national shortage of salt to treat roads will leave them hazardous for motorists.

Overnight temperatures are expected to plunge as low as minus 10C (14F).

David Sparks, chairman of the Local Government Association's transport board, said ships ladens with fresh supplies of salt were en route to the UK.

Efforts to make roads safe from freezing weather are "under control", he insisted, warning that public panic was not helping.

"There are supplies on the way. But the most important thing is the question of allocating the resources that we've got now to those areas most in need," he told the BBC.

"The arrangements have been made, we shouldn't panic, it's all under control."

Salt supplies are en route from Spain and Germany amid shortages which forced Gloucestershire County Council to switch to table salt to make its roads safe after running out of rock salt.

Cornwall County Council and Salt Union have stepped in to provide Gloucestershire with hundreds of tonnes of rock salt.

Paul Watters, head of roads policy at the AA, said of reassurances about the gritting situation: "I hope it's true, we hear there are supplies on their way from abroad.

"However, the 40,000 tonnes coming on the ship from Spain does not sound a lot - just one salt run can be 130 tonnes, and you have to think of all the different authorities that are involved.

"We certainly don't seem to be out of the woods with the weather, they're saying there could be some more snow on Monday.

"It's just crazy that we couldn't have realised that we were going to enter this situation so we could arrange supplies before we had the problem rather than during it."

An independent salt supplier said it could provide an adequate stock of a salt mixture to alleviate the emergency situation.

Icethaw, based in Clayton-le-Moors, Lancashire, said it had combined a mix of white salt with coarse grit salt "to produce an effective mixture to clear the country's roads and keep them open".

It said in a statement: "They have an adequate stock of this mixture to supply the country to help alleviate the emergency situation."

There has been no official response to the suggestion yet.

Rachel Vince, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said that after another cold night tonight there would be some snow in many areas today.

"A band of wet weather will come in from the west during the day, and we expect it to give a few centimetres of snow in many places, but it should turn to rain during the evening.

"That means we are thinking about the Monday morning rush-hour as an ice problem more than a snow problem, with conditions treacherous on untreated surfaces.

"Then there could be some more snow possible later on Monday, though Tuesday and Wednesday are looking more settled."

The M4 second Severn Crossing has re-opened following its closure on Friday due to ice falling from gantries and other parts of the bridge structure.

The bridge reopened at 5pm yesterday after an inspection and discussions between Gwent Police, the Highways Agency and Severn River Crossing plc.

The old M48 Severn Bridge Crossing was also shut for most of Friday but is now fully open.

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