UK

UK Weather: Northern Ireland World Cup Qualifier Cancelled Amid Snowfall

22/03/2013 21:40 GMT

An ongoing snowstorm in Northern Ireland has forced the abandonment of a World Cup qualifying football match and seen electricity cut to more than 110,000 homes and businesses.

Northern Ireland's scheduled fixture against Russia at Windsor Park in Belfast on Friday afternoon was postponed until Saturday afternoon with the agreement of both teams' governing bodies.

Ground staff worked throughout the day in a bid to clear the pitch, but with the snow continuing to fall and the forecast remaining bleak, officials were left with little alternative but to reschedule to 3pm on Saturday.

By mid-afternoon, engineers from Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) had managed to restore supply to around 65,000 customers but were still working to reconnect 48,000 who remained cut off.

The affected properties were mainly in counties Down and Antrim.

NIE said the damage to the network had been caused by ice on cables and trees bringing down lines and breaking poles.

The runway at George Best Belfast City Airport experienced a number of closures throughout the day due to the weather, while flights at Belfast International Airport were also disrupted.

More than 70 schools in the region were forced to shut for the day while commuters have faced hazardous conditions on the roads.

Snow drifts of up to 15.7in (40cm) have been reported.

bad weather

Weather conditions in Belfast have been appalling

At one stage tonight a blackout swept across the whole of Belfast.

NIE said an issue with the high voltage transmission network left the entire city without power just after 7.30pm.

Power was restored to most areas within a short period of time.

Meanwhile, the PSNI has continued to warn motorists about more road closures due to snow, stranded vehicles and fallen trees.

Around 44,000 homes and businesses across Northern Ireland are still without electricity supplies, with Counties Down and Antrim worst affected.

belfast

A Northern Ireland Electricity engineer as heavy snow falls on the Carnlough to Ballymena road in Co Antrim

Damage has been caused by high winds, cable icing and trees bringing down lines and breaking poles.

Further problems are expected overnight.

A half marathon event due to take place in Larne tomorrow has also been postponed until next month because of

the bad weather. A new date has not yet been confirmed.