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75,000 phone lines down after optic fibre melt down'

PUBLISHED: 22:44 06 April 2009 | UPDATED: 14:16 05 October 2010

TENS of thousands of business and households have been without phone and internet in East London after underground optic fibre cables were damaged. Even the police were hit when their computers went down. Up to 75,000 properties were affected at the height of the 'meltdwn'

By Else Kvist

TENS of thousands of business and households have been without phone and internet access in East London after underground optic fibre cables were damaged.

Even the police were hit when their computers went down.

Up to 75,000 properties were thought to be affected in a large swathe between Bow, Poplar, Canary Wharf and Isle of Dogs. Around 25,000 are still without connection tonight.

FIRMS HIT

Companies depending on phone lines have been badly hit since Saturday’s accident in a cable tunnel, especially East London’s the cab trade.

Westferry Cars near Canary Wharf estimated they had lost around 75 per cent of their normal business.

“Saturday, our busiest day, was so unusually quiet that our manager checked the lines,” said controller Janet Thorpe. “He discovered all the phone lines down.

“We had to have calls redirected to mobile phones.”

The firm caters for flight passengers at East London’s City Airport nearby. But regular business customers flying in from abroad have been unable to contact them to be picked up on arrival.

POLICE CUT OFF

The problem also caused road congestion as traffic lights have been cut off from the computer system, putting light sequences out of phase.

Even the police couldn’t escape the near melt down.’

The Met Police had some disruptions to computer terminals at its East London area HQ, but insisted policing had not been affected. Calls to the area office were met with recorded announcements.

BT was unable to predict when all services would be restored, given “the complexity of the damage,” but said around 50,000 subscribers had since been reconnected. Engineers are working around the clock to restore the remainder.

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