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First pictures of arson attack which left thousands in Staplehurst, Marden, Cranbrook and Tenterden without broadband and phone lines


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This is the first look at damage from an arson attack which left thousands of people without broadband and phone services for days.

Homes, businesses and medical centres across Staplehurst, Marden, Cranbrook, Tenterden, and Goudhurst have been left without vital services for two days after an important connection line in Sutton Valence was burned on Tuesday night.

First look at damage to an Openreach connection line which left Staplehurst and other villages without broadband and phone lines
First look at damage to an Openreach connection line which left Staplehurst and other villages without broadband and phone lines

In total, 7,400 people were left unable to use their phones and broadband - including businesses and doctors surgeries.

The problem was reported to Openreach just before midnight on Tuesday and engineers worked through the night on Wednesday to restore services for 90% of those affected.

An Openreach spokesman said: “Our engineers worked through the night to repair and replace cables damaged by fire at Sutton Valence on Tuesday night.

"90% of the 7,400 homes and businesses affected by the damage are now back online; everyone should be reconnected this afternoon.

"The incident affected properties in Headcorn, Sutton Valence, Marden, Staplehurst and Goudhurst.

'It is a complex fix and may take several days...'

"We’d like to thank everyone for their patience and to particularly thank our engineers for their herculean efforts to get everyone back online.

"We’d ask that anyone still experiencing any disruption to report it to their service provider who will then inform us.”

Yesterday the providers operations director said it was a "complex fix" and some people could be facing problems for "several days".

Openreach's Pete Stewart said: “There was a suspected arson attack on our network in Staplehurst late on Tuesday evening, leaving around 7,400 without phone and broadband services.

"Engineers are working hard to resolve the situation, but it is a complex fix and may take several days.

"Attacks on our equipment are deeply concerning, especially considering that so many people rely on their broadband for work, study, to get medical support and stay connected with loved ones.

"We know how frustrating this must be for those affected and we’ll be doing what we can to prioritise fixes for vulnerable customers and key local services.

"We’d ask that anyone experiencing any disruption to report it to their service provider who will then inform us.

"Our security team is working with the relevant authorities to make sure that this incident is fully investigated and those responsible are held to account.”

On Wednesday the Bower Dental Surgery and Staplehurst Health Centre both reported issues.

First look at damage to an Openreach connection line which left Staplehurst and other villages without broadband and phone lines
First look at damage to an Openreach connection line which left Staplehurst and other villages without broadband and phone lines

While earlier today the Marden Health Centre urged patients to only call if the problem is urgent.

A spokesman said on social media: "The surgery's telephone system is still not working. The main surgery number has been diverted to just one landline phone so please only call the surgery if it is urgent for today."

One concerned resident, who didn't want to be named, said: "The effect of this stupidity was far wider than Staplehurst.

"The entirety of Marden - including the GP surgery there- and many other surrounding villages and even Cranbrook and Tenterden were reportedly affected with no broadband or phone services.

"To some this would be seen as a minor offence. If elderly, disabled, or disadvantaged people were put at risk by the inability to seek local medical help or even call 999, I trust the courts will impose a suitable penalty to those who caused this.

"Many others work from home, so will have lost the inability to work and earn income. Businesses were affected by not being able to take contactless and other card payments."

Were you affected by the blackout? Let us know by emailing messengernews@thekmgroup.co.uk.

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