Possible state of emergency in CNMI over power outage

6:40 am on 15 July 2015

The Northern Marianas is considering declaring a state of emergency and transferring key public services to Tinian as a territory-wide communications blackout nears its second week.

Pagan Island

Pagan Island Photo: Supplied

The sole undersea fibre optic cable to Guam was severed by a boulder last week, cutting all phone, internet, banking and other services to the outside world.

Our correspondent in the CNMI, Mark Rabago, says a limited service has been restored by the cable's owner, Guam-based company IT&E, but phone services are patchy, internet is slow, and many ATMs are still down.

He says government services have been severely affected, and the governor is considering declaring a state of emergency.

"We are so dependent on the internet right now, and everything's ground to a halt, everything's so slow. So they're looking at transferring some key departments to Tinian because the internet speed on Tinian is OK, so they're looking at transferring some key personnel."

Mark Rabago says there have also been calls for a lawsuit against IT&E, as the territory has incurred serious losses as a result of the outage.

He says people have had no money for a week and typhoon warnings weren't able to be broadcast.