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Chaos on the roads and schools shut as heavy snow hits UK

Heavy traffic is reported on major routes across northern England as heavy snow causes a string of accidents and delays.

Meanwhile, dozens of schools across the country have been forced to stay closed for the day due to the wintery weather.

More than 130 schools are closed across Northern Ireland, and a total of 34 schools are closed in Cumbria - half of which are in Carlisle.

Twenty schools are closed in Oldham, Greater Manchester, along with 13 in Rossendale, Lancashire, and 25 across Derbyshire.

Manchester Airport closed as snow ploughs called in

Manchester Airport has now been closed to allow snow ploughs to clear its runways.

No flights will be allowed in or out of the airport until 10.30am at the earliest - and even then, passengers are warned of delays due to a possible backlog.

Snow at Manchester Airport earlier today Credit: Roy Llewellyn

It comes after long delays were reported throughout the morning.

We are not accepting any flights in or out due to the weather.

If we open at 10.30 those flights that are ready to take off will be able to do so.

We might experience a small backlog.

– Manchester Airport spokeswoman

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Japanese government working for release of Kenji Goto

A Japanese envoy in charge of the hostage crisis in Jordan has said the government was continuing to work for the quick release of Kenji Goto. The Japanese journalist is being held hostage by Islamic State militants, after a new deadline was purportedly set for a prisoner swap.

Kenji Goto was captured by Islamic State militants after travelling to Syria to save his friend last October. Credit: PA

As ordered by the Foreign Minister, we continue to collect information, analyse it and share it. We in the government, are working as one for Mr Goto's early release.

If you are concerned how Mr Goto must be feeling now, we can only work together as hard as possible and as one for his early release. That is all I can say.

– Japanese envoy Yasuhide Nakayama

Nakayama refused to give any details regarding Mr Goto's current situation.

Dramatic drop in number of people swimming

245,000 fewer people took part in swimming last year. Credit: PA

Despite being the country's most popular sport, swimming in England has seen a huge fall in participation numbers over the last year with 245,000 fewer people taking part.

Funding body Sport England says it is 'disappointed and concerned' at swimming's eight per cent drop which has significantly affected overall participation numbers in sport.

There's also been a drop off in participation across all sports. In the year ending October 2014, 125,100 fewer people did some kind of sport once a week for 30 minutes - bringing the overall number down from 15.7million to 15.6million.

Sports minister Helen Grant, said: "I am very concerned by the overall dip in participation over the last 12 months. Sports governing bodies have long argued that they can bring new people to their sport and funding should go via them but some are simply not delivering and it's not good enough."

Swimming remains the country's most popular sport with over 2.6million people taking part weekly despite the drop, which is certain to lead to a funding cut.

Two-hour delays at Manchester Airport due to snow

Delays of up to two hours are being reported at Manchester Airport after heavy snowfall hit the north of the country.

The airport's website shows flights to London Heathrow leaving almost an hour and a half behind schedule, while flights to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris left two hours late.

The airport's Twitter feed has been inundated with people angry by the delay and by the lack of information.

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Insolvency cases dropped to nine-year low in 2014

Insolvencies at lowest in nine years Credit: PA Wire

The number of people declared insolvent in England and Wales last year was at at its lowest level in nine years.

Some 99,196 cases were recorded last year, figures from the Insolvency Service showed.

It was the first time the annual total had dropped below 100,000 since 2005.

The latest annual total, which is made up of bankruptcies, debt relief orders and individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), also represents a 1.8% fall on the number of personal insolvencies recorded in 2013.

Who: Response now moving to ending Ebola epidemic

The World Health Organisation has said that its response is now moving to the phase of ending the epidemic.

Number of cases and deaths up to January 18. Credit: WHO
  • Number of cases continues to fall in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone
  • Mali declared free of Ebola after 42 days since the last case was tested
  • Intense-transmission countries have sufficient capacity to isolate and treat patients
  • 27 laboratories are providing services in the three intense-transmission countries. Five more laboratories are planned to meet demand
  • Case fatality among hospitalised patients remains between 57% and 59% in the 3 intense-transmission countries, with no detectable improvement
  • A total of 828 health worker infections have been reported in the three intense-transmission countries; there have been 499 reported deaths.
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