HUNDREDS of residents and businesses in Church Hill found themselves unable to use landlines or access the internet after three underground Openreach cables were damaged as thieves attempted to steal metal.

The damage was done in Easemore Road, and the first reports of problems with phones were reported to the Advertiser at 11am on Tuesday, January 29.

For the next few days, residents flooded the Advertiser with reports that they too were unable to use their landlines or internet, which caused havoc for business people and distress for many.

Church Hill resident David Cowley said: “Many of us use the internet and email for our businesses and we are losing out so badly.

“BT should have some contingency plan to get people online as soon as possible when something like this happens.”

And another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “A lot of people have mobiles so can make calls using them, but are we going to be compensated for these calls which are far more expensive in most cases, then calling someone on a landline.

“And what about the many elderly who may not have mobiles and live on their own, they have had days of being completely isolated.”

By Friday morning, BT has restored services to some people, and then worked over the next few days to resore the majority of those still without.

A BT spokesman said: “The majority of the repair work is now completed and engineers have been working round the clock.

“We are just going through the outstanding faults that we have logged with Openreach – currently around 70. It has been a painstaking process.”

A police spokesman said they were aware of the damage and believed the cables were damaged as potential thieves tried to steal metal.

Anyone who believes they may have seen something suspicious on Easemore Road is urged to call police on 101.