UK’s Shetland cut off from world after ‘very rare’ incident damaged two undersea cables

Thousands of residents of the British Shetland Islands are without phone and internet service after two undersea communications cables were damaged just days apart. This situation has been described as “extremely rare”.

Residents of the remote Scottish Archipelago have been unable to access telecommunications services since the early hours of October 20 when the cables connecting the islands to mainland Scotland (about 130 miles) were cut.

Another cable linking the Shetland Islands to the Faroe Islands, part of Denmark, was damaged last week and is still being repaired.

The cause of the damage has not yet been confirmed.

Previous incidents have linked trawlers to similar damage, but experts say it is highly unusual for two cables to be affected at the same time.

Faroese Telecom’s head of infrastructure, Páll Vesturbú, reportedly told British media:

“very serious”

Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the situation was “very serious” for Shetland.

She wrote on Twitter: “The Scottish Government Resilience Commission is working with our partner agencies to ensure support for those in need, repair cable damage and restore services as soon as possible. We are meeting and cooperating closely.”

Orkney and Shetland MP Alastair Carmichael said it could take several days before power is restored.

Scottish Police Superintendent David Ross said additional police resources were being sent to the islands to ensure that people across the Shetlands could access emergency services until the problem was resolved and services resumed. said.

He said officers would remain on the island “as long as necessary”.

“Police officers are patrolling by car and on foot and will continue to be available,” he said.

He urged people to regularly check on the elderly and vulnerable in their families and communities because “assistance alerts may not be working properly.”

Telecom operator BT Group said a third-party cable was broken and engineers were working to divert service through other lines as soon as possible.

A BT spokesperson said: External subsea providers are also looking to quickly restore the link.

“We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”

PA Media contributed to this report.

Alexander Chan