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BT operator: 'What service do you require?'

Caller: 'Er, one that works'

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If you burnt your roast chicken in the Birmingham area and needed to call out the fire brigade yesterday, you would have been stuffed.

More than 35,000 Brummies were unable to make landline calls or contact emergency services after thieves cut through BT cables causing severe disruption to telephone lines, the BBC reports.

Handsworth Sorting Office was raided by thieves late on Saturday night, which led to complete service loss to much of central Birmingham and the Black Country.

Burgulars cut cables at an exchange located behind the sorting office. It is not known if this was done deliberately or by mistake, but the thieves left empty-handed.

People were advised to use mobile phones or to run to their nearest police station in an emergency while BT worked on getting the lines up and running.

By this morning BT had restored much of the telephone service, but warned of intermittent problems as minor repairs were completed. ®

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