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BT struggles to repair Manchester fire damage

'Poor' conditions hamper progress

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BT engineers have begun work to repair the damage that wiped out more than 130,000 telephone lines in Manchester following a fire in an underground cable tunnel.

Engineers were the given the all-clear by firefighters to enter the tunnel at 9.00pm last night.

Working conditions in the tunnel, which is 30m under the centre of Manchester are said to be poor; but BT hopes that as new cable is laid more and more people will have their phone lines restored.

In the latest update the UK's dominant telco said:

BT was given clearance to access the tunnel at 21.00 on Monday night.

Teams have worked through the night getting equipment into the tunnel, and setting up power, lighting and ventilation systems.

Jointing on the first cables will begin shortly and will continue round the clock. Working conditions in the tunnel are poor, and we cannot say at this stage how long the whole process will take. As cables are brought back into service, service to customers will be gradually restored.

Separately we have set up alternative ducts between the two buildings and will be putting in fibre cable during the course of the day – once this is in place and operational (probably from tonight) this too will bring service back to customers.

We now have two banks of payphones in place (at Macclesfield and Prestbury) and we are continuing to work closely with the emergency authorities to reduce the impact on communities. ®

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