Island residents are facing a second day without phone, broadband and mobile services after a major outage caused by a cable connecting Shetland with the mainland suffered a ‘break’.
Police revealed on Thursday morning that the island, which has a population of just under 23,000, suffered a “complete outage” which has affected its connection to the main line.
BT confirmed the outage was down to a “break” in a third-party subsea cable connecting Shetland with the Scottish mainland.
The force had urged locals only to make calls in “emergency situations,” adding locals may have to “flag down a vehicle that does not have its blue lights on,” if they are unable to get through.
After several hours of the outage, on Thursday evening some services began to be restored “sporadically” in some areas across the islands including phone lines for the NHS Shetland health board.
Officers had a presence at the Tesco supermarket all day on Thursday to advise on the ongoing situation, however there were no official reports of how long the outage would last.
MP for Orkney and Shetland Alastair Carmichael said it could be days before the power is restored.
Some reports suggested that islanders may be facing outages until as late as Saturday.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the situation is “very serious” for Shetland.
The First Minister tweeted on Thursday: “The Scottish Government’s resilience committee has met and is working closely with partner agencies to ensure support for those who need it, and that the cable damage can be repaired and services restored asap.”
The cause of the damage has not yet been confirmed but came after a recent warning from Shetland Council suggested that a combination of older, lower-quality housing, rising energy bills and the extreme cold would leave 96% of households on the island in fuel poverty.
A BT Group spokesperson said: “Engineers are working to divert services via other routes as soon as possible and we’ll provide further updates. Our external subsea provider is also looking to restore their link quickly.
“We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”
Openreach have been asked for an updated comment on how long the outage will last.