N. Ireland Holds Urgent Meeting on Water Crisis

Thursday, 30 Dec 2010 | 6:48 AM ET

Northern Ireland's government is holding an emergency meeting Thursday to address the country's water crisis as tens of thousands of people remained without water for a ninth day.

Joe Fox | Getty Images

Engineers struggled to repair pipes that burst after the recent cold spell's sudden thaw.

Northern Ireland Water — the company at the center of the crisis— said it had increased its supply of water to the highest level ever but that 36,000 properties still lacked running water.

Long lines formed Thursday at emergency water points and Scotland trucked in thousands of liters of bottled water for distribution to help families.

Critics have condemned Northern Ireland Water for its response to the shortages as pressure mounts for service to be restored.

Phillip Dempster, 31, said his water service has been interrupted since just after Christmas.

"It is just terrible, having to queue for water," he said while waiting for emergency supplies in east Belfast. "It just should not happen."

Government ministers will discuss the possibility of bringing in more water tankers as reservoir levels remained low.

Problems could persist for several days.


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