Unkind cut: Telstra loses 6000 landlines as cable severed

TELSTRA’S efforts to restore services across the south-west took a major whack yesterday afternoon when about 6000 landlines dropped out.

Barely a day after the lines were re-parented through South Melbourne to relieve pressure on the damaged Warrnambool central exchange, a main fibre-optic cable north of Meredith was accidently severed.

Technicians from Geelong and Ballarat were despatched to repair the link. It was expected to take at least until midnight to fix.

Telstra spokesman James Howe said customers at Macarthur, Port Fairy, Casterton, Wandovale and Timboon lost landline service about 3pm.

“It seems to be Murphy’s law with us,” he said. 

Earlier in the afternoon a fire alarm at the Koroit Street exchange sent Warrnambool CFA crews racing back to the scene of the November 22 blaze which crippled 100,000 services across the region.

Observers must have thought it was Telstra’s worst nightmare.

However, it turned out to be just a case of a leaking toilet tripping the alarm system and triggering an alert at the fire station five blocks away.

“It’s not the situation we really needed just a day after restoring services,” Mr Howe said.

“But we can assure people there was no damage at all to our equipment.”

Ten firefighters in two trucks attended.

They evacuated people from the building, isolated water supply to a pipe on the second storey and mopped up.

Workers were later allowed back into the exchange building.

The cause of the Warrnambool exchange fire last month is yet to be announced. The Standard understands Telstra is still awaiting to digest an official CFA report.

Meanwhile, dozens of people are continuing to report crossed lines and other faults to the Telstra 1800 171 355 call centre number.

There has also been a steady flow of compensation inquiries on 1800 008 979 and lodgement of claims for losses caused by the extended outage.

Mr Howe said 30 claims up to $1000 had been settled and several others above $1000 were being processed.

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