POLICE have received reports from BY that they have managed to restore a large percentage of services in areas affected by an earlier loss of landlines.
There is intermittent coverage in Skeabost and Castlebay (Barra), however there is still no landline or 999 coverage in Ardvasar, Killilan and Glenshiel.
Full service has been restored to Scalpay, Uig (Skye) and Balallan, although broadband service is still not available. At this time the intermittent outages in Barra are being dealt with as part of the major incident response, however it is not known if this is connected to the issue on the mainland.
Police say they have resources within the affected communities and will continue to be responsive to calls for service. They are working closely with multi-agency partners and residents and members of the public in Barra should visit the local Police station in the event of an emergency.
The officer in charge of the incident. Superintendent John MacDonald, said: “We are treating the loss of phone services as a major incident and are working closely with our multi-agency partners to effectively deal with the incident as quickly as possible.
“Highland Council and Western Isles Council have both put in place resources to provide additional contact through their mobile patrol work forces.
“Police are currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the theft/damage of cable in the Stromferry/Lochcarron area,” he continued.
“Anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in this area in the past 24 hours is urged to contact Police on 01478 612888 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
BT say the incident has impacted on broadband and around 7,000 customers across the north-west Highlands have lost service.
The phone company say they face a major engineering challenge to restore service to the affected communities and broadband users.
A BT spokesman said: “The damage to the fibre cable was obviously caused at low tide at Strathcarron and when we were able to locate it, the tide had turned and the damaged area was 20 metres out into the loch.
“The next low tide is not until 2pm when we will carry out an assessment of the damage.
“We are continuing to investigate all our options, including replacing the entire 1,000 metres of cable and we have alerted divers at our marine unit in Plymouth.”
Highland Council added that one impact of a landline outage is that bank ATMs have been affected.
Anyone travelling to Skye and Lochalsh over the next couple of days is advised to take cash with them as they may experience difficulty in obtaining money from the machines.