Dutch emergency services hit by major telecoms outage

Vastavam Web: A major telecommunications outage hit the Netherlands on Monday, crippling ambulance and emergency services numbers and prompting the police to send all duty officers onto the streets. The outage, which was ongoing after several hours, originated on the network of national carrier Royal KPN NV, but was also affecting other telecommunications providers using KPN’s backbone.

Emergency contact numbers “cannot be reached due to a technical malfunction. We are working hard to resolve the malfunction,” a government statement said. “If you need immediate medical assistance, go to the hospital yourself.” KPN said in a statement on its website its fixed-line and mobile networks were down. It did not give any indication of the cause, or how long it might last. Officials from the company could not be reached by phone or email for comment.

The outage, which started before 16:00 local time (1400 GMT), was the largest in memory in the Netherlands, a nation of 17 million which prides itself on the technical prowess of its telecommunications infrastructure. Anna Posthumus, a spokeswoman at the National Coordinator for Security and Counter-Terrorism, said it is “too early to say” whether there may have been a cyber attack. “Our first priority is making sure that everything works again.”

People with medical or other emergencies were instructed on Twitter to go directly to hospitals, fire departments or local police stations. The main police and emergency numbers were not working. Emergency service authorities published alternative numbers on Twitter. The military police, which guards international borders, said it had increased its presence at vital military locations and airports.