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Virgin Media outage: Electrical explosion takes down network in south-east London

Underground electrical network explosion causes ‘significant collateral damage’ to cabling infrastructure, with users in south-east London told to brace themselves for ‘at least’ 24 hours of disruption

Virgin Media has confirmed it is working to restore network connectivity to homes, businesses and schools across south-east London after an underground electrical power explosion damaged the network cabling it runs through the area.

The ISP confirmed to Computer Weekly that it is working with UK Power Networks, the organisation responsible for maintaining and managing the electrical network in that part of London, to restore network connectivity to those affected.

“We are aware of an incident on the UK Power Networks electricity network which has damaged some of our underground cables and is causing a loss of services for some customers in the Lewisham area,” said a Virgin Media spokesperson.

“Our engineers are on site and are working closely with UK Power Networks to restore services as quickly as possible. We apologise to the customers affected and are working as quickly as possible to repair the damaged cables.”  

Those affected by the incident include schools across Lewisham, Bexley, Southwark and Greenwich, which are part of the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) education consortium, an organisation concerned with improving the quality of network access to thousands schools across the capital.

In a statement to Computer Weekly, the LGfL said it had told its schools to brace themselves for “at least” 24 hours of service disruption because of the explosion, which it described as causing “significant collateral damage” to the area’s network fibre cabling.

“Unfortunately, due to the location of the explosion, which is under a busy roundabout, fixing this damage is likely to take at least 24 hours, given the need to make the area safe and the scale of the follow-up remedial work needed to repair cabling and infrastructure damaged by the original explosion,” said a spokesperson for the LGfL.  

In a statement to Computer Weekly, a spokesperson for UK Power Networks said the organisation was already investigating the root cause of the fault that led to the explosion: “Our engineers are currently on site in the Lewisham area following an underground cable fault that affected the electricity network at 5.30am today. We are investigating the cause of the fault and are working to fully restore all supplies as quickly and safely as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

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