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UPDATE: A9 almost cleared of stranded vehicles 'but likely to remain shut for hours yet', say police

By Philip Murray

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Efforts to clear the A9 near Helmsdale earlier on Thursday.
Efforts to clear the A9 near Helmsdale earlier on Thursday.

A rescue effort to free stranded vehicles on a snowbound section of the A9 has almost cleared all of them – but the vital route is likely to stay shut "for several hours yet".

That's the warning issued by police as the local force revealed that there is "no timescale" yet for reopening numerous other roads hit by drifting and heavy snow on Thursday.

As well as the A9's closure, the B9176 Struie Road linking Evanton to Ardgay, the A836 between Melvich and Durness, the A897 between Melvich and Helmsdale and the A836 between Tongue and Lairg were all also shut due to the atrocious conditions on Thursday.

Related: Stranded A9 motorists urged to 'stay in cars and keep warm' as police warn other drivers to 'avoid area'

Related: Snow plough leaves road after a foot of fresh overnight snowfall and drifts cause chaos on Highland routes

Related: After the snow – a yellow warning for strong winds on Sunday

And officers have advised against travelling between south and north Highland areas due to the closure of the A9 and these vital arterial roads.

]In an update on the various closured at around 4.30pm on Thursday, a police spokesperson said: "The A9 between Helmsdale and Dunbeath remains closed due to high winds and drifting snow making the road conditions impassable.

"Police Scotland and Bear Scotland resources have been in attendance in the area of Berriedale for several hours, assisting motorists who had become stranded. This stretch of road has almost been cleared of all stranded vehicles but is likely to remain closed for several hours yet.

"The snow gates located at Helmsdale and Dunbeath have been closed and will remain closed until the road conditions show signs of improvement.

"There are other road closures in the area too due to snow.

They added: "For any motorist wishing to travel between south Highland and north Highland areas using the road network then it is recommended that they consider avoiding travel at this time and make alternative arrangements.

"There are no estimated timescales at this time for when these roads are likely to be opened again."

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