RAF air drops for Cumbria communities hit by five days of 'extreme isolation'

The military is being called in to take emergency supplies to "extremely isolated" parts of Cumbria after severe weather wreaked havoc across the area.

The county council said areas including Fellside, South Stainmore and Alston had been cut off for five days - and would remain so for another 48 hours - after heavy snowfall and slow progress in clearing the roads.

A Chinook helicopter has been brought in to drop supplies, including food, coal and logs for heating and electrical heating appliances as the operation begins on Monday morning.

An RAF Chinook helicopter arrives at Carlisle airport (Owen Humphreys/PA)
An RAF Chinook helicopter arrives at Carlisle airport (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Stewart Young, Leader of Cumbria County Council, said: "We have some communities who have now been stranded for five days and we have to do all we can to ensure that they are safe and well.

"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 that 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."

Supplies are loaded at the airport (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Supplies are loaded at the airport (Owen Humphreys/PA)

A yellow weather warning for ice issued by the Met Office is in place for areas including Cumbria until 11am on Monday.

They said: "Icy stretches will continue to be likely on untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths.

"In addition, some hill snow is likely at times mainly over the Pennines, although amounts are expected to be small.

"Driving conditions may become difficult and there is an increased chance of injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces."

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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