When a train falls in Baltimore, it knocks out e-mail halfway around the world.
Welcome to the 21st century.
cell phones in suburban
Maryland, to corporate Web pages that couldnt be updated in Manhattan, to e-mail downed in Africa.
Fiber optic cables running through the tunnel where the
train caught fire, midway on a major line between New York and Miami, were
destroyed, causing headaches for several major telecommunications carriers. The
fiber line had been installed in a steel pipe inside the tunnel two years
A water main break above the tunnel at Howard and Lombard streets also
knocked out phone service to two downtown office towers. Verizon
Communications Inc. expected to have service restored Friday to
250 W. Pratt St., flooded by three feet of water, and 300 W. Pratt St., which
took on 10 feet of water. Both buildings were closed Thursday, said Sandra
Arnette, a phone company spokeswoman.
"This is bad," said Felix Dialoiso, vice president for LAI
Construction Services Inc. in Baltimore, one of the companies summoned to
reroute the fiber optic line. "This is a pretty serious situation. It carries
all kinds of information."
WorldCom Inc., based in Clinton, Miss., and
Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. of White Plains, N.Y., which transmit voice and
data on those lines beneath Baltimore, battled service outages Thursday.
"The train derailment did affect communications traffic in the Northeast
corridor," Jennifer Baker, a Worldcom spokeswoman in Washington, said at midday. "We had teams
working through the night to restore communication services and the majority of
our traffic is back up. We have not been allowed back in the tunnel, so we
looked for alternate paths on our own network and put new cable in the area."
The fiber break also interrupted a cell phone site that served Nextel
Communicatons Inc. in Montgomery County, said Audrey Schaefer, a company
E-mail and e-commerce was affected in Baltimore -- and
from the accident, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was having difficulty
communicating with its 162 parishes and 10 schools because of sporadic e-mail
"It just makes us realize how vulnerable we are when something
that seems unrelated can affect so many things," said William Glover, technology officer for the Archdiocese. "Theyve had to reroute data traffic, so
dribs and drabs of e-mails are coming in. Its like a storm drain of data trying
to push through a garden hose."
In New York City, the Hearst Corp. lost e-mail and its main links to its Web pages on the Internet, said
Gary Clough, a spokesman for the media company.
The Suns Web site received an
e- mail from an employee of the U.S. State Department at the American Embassy in
Zambia, Africa, that she had been alerted from Washington that communications
has been affected by the accident in Baltimore. A department spokesman in
Washington said he could not confirm the report.
"Just wanted you to know
that the fire in my hometown has far reaching effects ... Im a Baltimorean,
living and working in Lusaka as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Dept.
of State," she wrote. "We were told and have confirmed that the fire took out
MCI phone wiring that runs to a point near the Washington, D.C. area that feeds
our link with the State Dept. and our e-mail system."
From Friday's Sun