Burst pipes leave 40,000 without water in N. Ireland

29th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Some 40,000 people were struggling to cope Wednesday without water supplies in Northern Ireland, where frozen pipes have burst, leaving some without fresh water for eight days.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses across the province are affected, with people forced to join long queues for bottled water. Parts of the capital Belfast are among the hardest hit.

"At the latest count, 40,000 people are without running water," a spokeswoman for Northern Ireland Water, which provides the province's water and sewerage services, told AFP.

Leisure centres in Belfast and towns including Coleraine, Antrim and Cookstown opened to provide washing and showering facilities.

Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness promised a review of the response to the situation.

"The recent long spell of sub-zero temperatures and snow falls, followed by a quick and dramatic thaw, has resulted in frozen pipes followed by flooding which has affected many people adversely, with some having witnessed considerable damage to their homes," he said.

Peter Maguire, a doctor from Newry, southwest of Belfast, has been living for eight days without water.

"This is really now a public health emergency. NI Water has been shambolic. Young families have been left without drinking water and not able to flush toilets. This is unacceptable," he said.

"There are too many vulnerable people who are now without a water supply for over a week."

© 2010 AFP

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