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Shetland cut off after break in undersea cable, officials say

By Derrick Bryson Taylor


A break in an underwater cable left up to tens of thousands of people in Shetland, the remote Scottish archipelago across the sea from Norway and more than 100 miles north of mainland Britain, unexpectedly cut off from the world Thursday, officials said.


A spokeswoman for BT Group, the company that services the region, said in a statement that because of the break in a third-party underwater cable that connects Shetland to the Scottish mainland, some phone, TV, internet and mobile phone services were affected.


“Engineers are working to divert services via other routes as soon as possible,” the statement said, adding that the third-party provider was trying to restore its link.


BT Group warned that anyone who needed emergency services should use other means, like landlines, while service was out.


BT Group did not immediately respond to a request for further comment, including what efforts to repair the cable would look like, when service might be fully restored and when the company learned of the cable break. It did not specify what caused the break.


Another cable to Shetland, from Faroe, was still awaiting repairs after it was damaged last week, the BBC reported.


About 23,000 people live in Shetland, according to Scottish government statistics.


The police in Scotland said in a statement Thursday that the outage was affecting some land and mobile lines on Shetland, including the internet.


“We are advising people not to make non-urgent calls for the time being so that all available lines can be used for emergencies if required,” Superintendent David Ross said in the statement, advising residents to travel to the nearest police station to report an emergency if emergency lines are not connecting.


Officers were patrolling the region in vehicles and on foot, he said, and authorities were working with partners to make additional resources available.


By Thursday afternoon, there were visible signs that Shetland was experiencing an outage. A website for the Shetland Islands Council appeared to be down, and a phone call placed to the council did not connect.


Another call to Shetland College, in the city of Lerwick, also did not connect.


There are about 100 islands in Shetland, but only 16 are inhabited. Travel to and from Shetland is not easy, and requires an overnight ferry or a flight from Aberdeen, on the eastern coast of Scotland.

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