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Phones still down after lightning strikes

HOUSEHOLDS and businesses in rural Shetland are still suffering as a result of the Friday night lightning strike that knocked power lines down for up to 18 hours at a time.

Telecoms provider BT said that they had suffered “significant damage” throughout the country and that Shetland had suufered considerably as a result of the electrical storms.

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“Many individual phone lines have been blown with the communities of Vidlin and Fetlar losing broadband after power and radio links were also hit,” a BT spokeswoman said.

She said that internet links in Fetlar were restored on Monday afternoon and engineers were working hard to bring back services in Vidlin by the evening.

“Across the islands, fault reports are much higher than usual and are still coming in,” she said.

“We are mobilising our engineers on the islands, with all hands on deck, so that we can reach everyone affected as quickly as possible.

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“It’s really important that anyone experiencing issues contacts their service provider, if possible, to report their fault and discuss requirements.“

She said that in some cases electrical equipment may need to be replaced by service providers, who would liaise with BT on behalf of their customers to organise engineering appointments.

“Service providers may also be able to help with practical measures such as putting line diverts in place while permanent repairs are carried out,” she said.

“Lightning damage is notoriously difficult to repair. It can cause multiple faults on an individual line, so clearing the damage can involve a painstaking process of elimination.

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“Engineers can clear one fault only to find others further along the line. Damage can also take time to manifest, causing network degradation or equipment to fail several days after the initial strike.

“With the bad weather set to continue over the next few days, we would like to take this opportunity to thank local people for their understanding and patience while repair efforts are ongoing.”

Meanwhile Ian Brown of Shetland Broadband said their biggest problems had been in Vidlin, but also affected were Fetlar, Sella Ness, Whalsay and Sumburgh.

Several customers have been completely without phonelines since Saturday and many have experienced substantial damage to electrical and telecommunications equipment.

A big problem has been power lines going down again after they had been fixed because of issues such as poles going on fire.

Brown said his main network was up and running but he was aware of individual customers without service.

He urged anyone experiencing difficulties to contact Shetland Broadband on 01595 696297.

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