Shetland Islands cut off from phone, internet and TV after undersea cable damaged

Pier College in Scalloway, Mainland Shetland, Scotland, UK.
Pier College in Scalloway, Mainland Shetland, Scotland, UK. (Ashley Cooper via Getty Images)

Fishing boats are the likely suspects of a major outage which has left the Shetland Islands cut off from broadband, TV and phone services.

Police said on Thursday that engineers are currently working to fix the problem, which has left islanders cut off from mainland Scotland.

The disruption has meant some cash machines are not working, while shops have been unable to process card payments, according to local media.

BT has sent text messages to customers saying it is trying to fix the "major outage", with disruption currently expected to last until Saturday.

It comes after another cable connecting Shetland and the Faroe Islands was broken last week, with repairs expected to be completed on Saturday.

Head of infrastructure for Faroese Telecom, Páll Vesturbú, said: “We expect it will be fishing vessels that damaged the cable but it is very rare that we have two problems at the same time.”

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A small fishing trawler off the coast of Ayrshire, Scotland.
The cause of the disruption has not been confirmed, but trawller boats are a likely suspect. (Getty Images) (NORRIE3699 via Getty Images)

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A BT spokesperson said: “Due to a break in a third-party subsea cable connecting Shetland with the Scottish mainland, some phone, TV, broadband and mobile services are affected.

"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. Anyone who needs to call 999 should try their landline, tv or their mobile, even if they don’t have signal from their own mobile provider. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”

Police Scotland's chief inspector Jane Macknzie told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland that officers would be made more visible during the outage.

For people who can't get through to 999, she advised they flag down an emergency vehicle that isn't using a blue light, or report the incident directly to their nearest police statio, fire station, hospital or ambulance station.