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Water shortage grows in Northern Ireland

[ 2010-12-30 12:10]     字号 [] [] []  
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Fears of a public health crisis in Northern Ireland grew on Wednesday as the state water provider warned supplies would not return to normal for days, leaving tens of thousands of people without water.

A big winter freeze followed by a swift thaw left burst mains and pipes across the province, affecting 40,000 homes and businesses in Belfast as well as 77 other towns and villages, state supplier Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) said.

Some people have been left without water for more than a week and others have had sewage flooding their homes.

Council-run leisure centers offered free washing and showering facilities across the province, free-standing pipes were erected in streets to provide supplies and Scotland offered to ship stocks of bottled drinking water. Farmers were also worried about getting water for their livestock.

Peter Maguire, a general practitioner near Newry, told the BBC: "There is now really a public health emergency. Young families have been left without drinking water and unable to flush toilets. This is unacceptable."

"There are now too many vulnerable people who are now without a water supply for over a week. The situation is unprecedented but is now getting out of control," said Maguire who has been left without water for eight days.

Officials blamed NI Water for being unable to cope.

Environment Minister Edwin Poots said: "Everybody knew that whenever the thaw came there were going to be problems with water, so I think there was a lack of preparation by NI Water.”

Several Irish counties also faced severe shortages and state councils have rationed water in many areas, provoking anger from restaurants, pubs and hotels who are likely to be affected over New Year's eve.


(中国日报网英语点津 Julie 编辑)

Water shortage grows in Northern Ireland

About the broadcaster:

Water shortage grows in Northern Ireland

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.