Telstra exchange fire cuts off services to 60,000 Victorians

Summary:A fire at an exchange in Victoria has cut off services for at least 60,000 customers in the southwest of the Australian state.

At least 60,000 Telstra customers have been left without mobile, landline, or internet service after a fire damaged an exchange in Victoria's southwest.

The fire severely damaged 60 percent of the Telstra Exchange in Warrnambool early on Thursday morning (AEDST), crippling services in a vast area of the state's west and southwest.

A Telstra spokesman said that some phone services have been restored in small pockets in Coleraine, Port Fairy, and Edenhope, but that it would be "at least a number of days" before all voice services in the region are operating.

Internet services, however, will take longer to restore.

Telstra said this morning that the exchange was made weather proof overnight, and that power has been restored. The company has posted several photos online revealing the extent of the damage to the exchange.

Telstra also said that ATM and EFTPOS facilities are not available in the majority of affected areas, including major population centres Warrnambool, Portland, Camperdown, and Hamilton.

Triple 0 can be accessed by mobile users, but not by landlines, although Telstra has urged customers to only use it in an emergency. Some police stations and hospitals in the area have been issued with satellite phones.

The State Emergency Service's (SES) 132 500 number is currently not available in the affected areas.

An "exchange on wheels" has been sent to Warrnambool, along with eight satellite cells, including four flown in from Sydney.

Telstra spokesman James Howe said that the Country Fire Authority allowed one technician into the exchange to assess the damage early on Thursday, and more were admitted later in the day.

Optus has advised that its mobile phone service is operating, and the majority of landlines are functional.

Josh Taylor contributed to this article.

Topics: Telcos, Australia, Telstra

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