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Airdrop to animals as spring snow blights Britain
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) March 26, 2013

Britain's military airdropped fodder to farms cut off by freak spring snow as concerns grew Tuesday for livestock animals feared buried under giant snowdrifts.

A Royal Air Force (RAF) helicopter shipped feed bales to animals on remote farms in Northern Ireland, where estimates suggest up to 10,000 animals may have been buried beneath snowdrifts 20 feet (six metres) high, at the height of the lambing season.

And in Scotland, 2,700 homes were still without electricity for a fifth straight day following Friday's unseasonal snowfall that brought down power lines.

British media have dubbed the month "Miserable March" and bookmakers used to taking bets on a White Christmas are now offering odds on a White Easter.

An RAF Chinook was used to reach farms cut off by the huge snowdrifts in Northern Ireland, airlifting fodder to the Glens of Antrim by the north coast.

Some farmers have been out digging their sheep free from the snowdrifts.

Medication and food have already been delivered by helicopter to people left snowbound in the province.

In southwest Scotland, around 1,000 homes on the Isle of Arran and 1,700 in neighbouring Argyll were still without power Tuesday.

Following a "resilience" meeting of the Scottish government, its Transport Minister Keith Brown said some rural communities could be without power until the end of Thursday.

Scottish and Southern Energy said damage to the power networks had been among the worst seen in 30 years, with the weight of snow and ice pulling transmission lines down.

Consumer groups warned that energy bills could rise again as a result of the freezing weather.

Temperatures did not get above 1.3 degrees Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) in London on Tuesday.

Ladbrokes has suspended betting on this year being the coldest Easter on record in Britain, while William Hill were offering 2-1 that snow would fall on Buckingham Palace in London on Easter Sunday.

Gareth Wyn Jones, who has a farm in Llanfairfechan on the north Wales coast, said he had found some newborn lambs "frozen to the ground".

"The sheep are heavily pregnant and weak at this time of the year because we have had such a poor winter," he said.

"With the massive snowfall and winds, it's just been horrendous.

"The sheep are trapped under the drifts, some of which are 15 feet (4.6 metres) in some places. We've dug 70 out in the last three days.

"Some lambs have been born frozen to the ground. It's heartbreaking."

The Met Office national weather service said there was a "100 percent probability of severe cold weather and icy conditions" until Friday in parts of England.

"This weather could increase the health risks to vulnerable patients and disrupt the delivery of services," it said.

"Bitterly cold easterly winds will persist this week, bringing snow showers to northeast England and light snow flurries across other areas of England."


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