Five Days After Quake Phone Circuits From Mexico Still Extremely Limited With AM-Mexico
Five Days After Quake Phone Circuits From Mexico Still Extremely Limited With AM-Mexico Quake, Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ American Telephone & Telegraph Co. said Tuesday it had opened four international telephone circuits to Mexico City, including one for the American Red Cross in Washington to coordinate emergency messages.
The circuits are the first international commercial service for the area since it was struck by a devastating earthquake last week.
Rich Wetmore, district manager at AT&T’s network operations center at Bedminster, N.J., said a special operator bank was switching calls from an office in Houston.
He said it was possible that by the end of the week some direct-dial calls to Mexico City would be possible, although operators would be used to prioritize calls until enough circuits were operating to allow all calls to go through.
Red Cross spokesman Brian Ruberry said that because of the time involved in making even a single call on the special circuit, ″We are using the line right now for emergency services, such as requests from the Mexican Red Cross as to what kind of surgical supplies are needed.″
He said the Red Cross was not yet prepared to relay requests for checks on the welfare of individuals.
Meanwhile, many messages from Mexicans who survived the earthquake to family members overseas were being transmitted by ham radio. Some were being relayed by airline personnel.
International telephone traffic to the Mexican capital was cut off when the powerful earthquake and related power surges destroyed the downtown Mexico City international telephone switching office and its computerized equipment last Thursday morning.
Neighborhoods in Mexico City and other earthquake-damaged communities still had local telephone service in many cases, but residents could not make international calls because of the destruction of the international switch.
″To the best of our knowledge, general telephone service witin the city is relatively good,″ AT&T’s Wetmore said. He has been in touch with his Mexican counterparts through the State Department.
″As they bring the damaged portions back into service, sometimes they have difficulty keeping them in service,″ he said. He added that his information is that many of the recurring problems are power-related and are caused by planned outages controlled by Mexico’s power engineers as they work on restoring the nation’s electrical system.
Wetmore said the circuits established on Tuesday were being used only for emergencies. He said the Houston Emergency Center was routing calls through Guadalajara, Puebla and Celaya.
″Primarily it is serving State Deptartment traffic to allow them to communicate directly with the U.S. Embassy,″ Wetmore said. ″Additionally, we are extending this capability to foreign governments to allow them to communicate via the United States with their embassies.″ Under normal conditions, direct connections from other countries would be possible without routing through the United States.
No direct-dial service is available on the emergency circuits.
AT&T and the U.S. Telephone Association have offered personnel and technical assistance to the Mexican government to assist in rebuilding that nation’s international and local phone system.