Cut off: Emergency, regular phone numbers fail at Longyearbyen Hospital during avalanche

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Both the emergency and regular phone numbers at Longyearbyen Hospital were inoperative during immediately after the avalanche a week ago Tuesday that destroyed two apartment buildings, according to High North News.

The news website reported Friday officials working for the governor as well as civilians experienced major difficulties reaching the hospital. The apparent reason is the “113” emergency number was redirected to a portable phone located on the hospital premises that lacks a network connection in parts of the building.

“We could not get hold of anyone on 113, so we attempted the regular number,” the governor’s office told High North News. “The call was then answered, but interrupted, and it appeared to be a technical error. We got in touch with the hospital through a different number and notified them of the potential error.”

The phone was redirected because the entire hospital staff attending a catastrophe course organized by the University Hospital of Northern Norway that day.

“The portable phone has for brief periods been located in a part of the building where network coverage is insufficient,” Aksel Bilicz, department manager at Longyearbyen Hospital, told the news site. “We were not aware of this. We are now making sure that all cordless phones have sufficient network coverage all the time.”

The hospital’s wirless network is scheduled to be replace this spring.

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