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Graves washed out to sea as Mayo village is hit by massive landslide.

Byline: JIM GALLAGHER

RESCUE workers were still battling to get through to 100 people stranded in their homes last night following one of the worst landslides ever seen in Ireland.

Thousands of tons of mud cut off the Co Mayo villages of Pollathomas and Grengad and destroyed two cemeteries, sweeping some graves out to sea.

Sheep were spotted bobbing in the waves after thick mud swept over fields taking livestock with it.

The villages - on a peninsula ten miles north east of Belmullet - were without electricity or water supplies as emergency services fought to free them last night. Many of the locals were said to be elderly.

Nobody was killed when the massive amount of earth began to move down a local mountain on Friday night following torrential rain.

One house was swept away and three bridges were destroyed when the mud swept over at least two miles of road.

Local teacher Maura Harrington told the Irish People: "I saw one sturdy bridge in bits. There were blocks of concrete everywhere and it had been smashed to pieces.

"It was just a miracle that nobody was killed. It was a scene of complete devastation."

Two cemeteries were also destroyed in the disaster with whole coffins and graves swept away.

"I could see headstones standing but the graves over which they stood were gone," said Maura.

"A 98-year-old woman lives in the house at the top of the hill but people were able to get her down.

"All 25 houses in Grengad are surrounded by mud but walls and fences have been swept away."

Oil giants Shell have been trying to build a giant gas refinery in the area but locals have so far successfully opposed the scheme.

One local said last night: "This is a clear sign that engineers should not unleash the forces of nature which they cannot control. It is a warning."

CAPTION(S):

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER: Pollathomas Bridge in Mayo was swept away by the worst landslides ever seen in Ireland; DEVASTATION: Scene at the local cemetery; OFF ROAD: Cars and homes were destroyed
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2003
Words:348
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