RAF Chinook takes supplies to cut-off Cumbrian communities

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Media captionChinook flies in supplies to cut-off Cumbrian communities

An RAF Chinook helicopter has flown food and supplies to areas in Cumbria cut off by snow for five days.

The aircraft, carrying Royal Marines, took off from Carlisle Airport earlier to aid snowed-in communities around Fellside, South Stainmore and Alston.

Supplies included food, fuel, medicines and electrical heating appliances and came as many residents said they were "burning furniture" to keep warm.

The operation, dubbed Boomster, could continue on Tuesday if required.

Soldiers were accompanied by police and mountain rescue personnel.

Image caption Logs for heating were among supplies dropped off by soldiers near Kirkby Stephen
Image caption Residents and farmers trapped for five days were happy to see supplies arrive
Image copyright PA
Image caption Supplies of food and logs for heating were crammed into the chinook
Image copyright Debbie Barrett
Image caption Nenthead, near Alston, is completely cut off by snow

Laura Seaton, 38, from the village of Nenthead, near Alston, said: "We've got a hell of a lot of houses that have been completely and utterly cut off, to the point where they had to be dug out just to get out of their front door, because the drifts that have been up there have been quite incredible.

"There are people who are running out of solid fuel and when that runs out people have been burning their own furniture because the coal merchants down in Alston weren't able to get to the back end of the village.

"It has been pretty horrendous up here."

Mrs Seaton and her husband Jamie, 46, were part of a team of about 40 volunteers who set out to take supplies to people trapped in nearby areas on Sunday after the tough conditions threatened to stop them from stocking up on food and water.

Image caption WO Roger Atkinson said the those who had been cut off by the snow had been "bearing up well"
Image copyright PA
Image caption Many homes had been without food and fuel for days
Image copyright PA
Image caption A snowblower has been used to clear a road leading to the hamlet of Parkhead near Kirkoswald
Image copyright PA
Image caption The Chinook is flying aid to snowed-in communities in Fellside, South Stainmore and Alston
Image copyright PA
Image caption Some villages have been cut off for days

Natalie Lewis, from Park Head near Lazonby and who had spent 30 hours without electricity, said she was "relieved" help had finally arrived.

She said: "The soldiers have been so helpful. They went around and made sure everything was safe."

Warrant Officer Roger Atkinson of the Royal Marines, said: "Considering what people have been through over the past few days, they have have been bearing up well.

"Our men have just spent two months in Norway doing cold weather warfare training, so we've been very comfortable in this environment.

"We will probably be doing more of the same tomorrow."

County council leader Stewart Young said: "Despite our very best efforts, and our crews working day and night, we are experiencing ongoing significant challenges in accessing some of our communities.

"The depth of snow and the challenging nature of the terrain is making progress on clearing roads exceptionally slow.

"As a result it is estimated it will be at least 48 hours before we reach many more of these communities, hence the need to bring in military assistance and we are very grateful for their help."

A yellow weather warning for ice issued by the Met Office was in place for areas, including Cumbria, until 11:00 GMT.

Wing Commander Gary Lane, RAF Regional Liaison Officer for the North West, said: "The Chinook helicopter gives the partnership another dimension to be able to deliver vital supplies by air to areas that are cut off by other means."

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