Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama Police Force Communications Outages After RV Exploded

Large-scale communications blackouts continued to plague large swathes of Tennessee on Saturday as federal investigators searched the site for clues to a recreational vehicle explosion that rocked downtown asleep from Nashville at Christmas.

Police emergency systems in Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama, as well as the Nashville COVID-19 community hotline and a handful of hospital systems, have remained out of service due to an AT&T central office affected by the explosion. The building contained a telephone exchange, with network equipment inside – but the company declined to say exactly how many people were affected.

Meanwhile, investigators shut down the heart of downtown Nashville’s tourist scene – an area filled with honky-tonks, restaurants and shops – as they squeezed through broken windows and damaged buildings. to learn more about the explosion. Although the authorities are convinced that it was a deliberate act, they did not care to say publicly who committed it and why.

Mayor John Cooper has imposed a curfew in the city center until Sunday by executive order to limit public access to the area.

AT&T said the restoration efforts face several challenges, including a fire that “reignited overnight and led to the building being evacuated.” This forced their teams to work with safety and structural engineers and drill access holes in the building to reconnect the power.

WATCH | 3 blast injuries in Nashville:

CBC’s Derek Stoffel reports on the latest developments on the explosion that rocked the largely deserted streets of downtown Nashville early on Christmas morning. 1:31

“Our teams continue to work around the clock on recovery efforts after yesterday morning’s explosion in Nashville,” the company said in a statement Saturday. “We have two portable cell sites in operation in downtown Nashville and many additional portable sites are being deployed in the Nashville area and region.

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Governor Bill Lee on Saturday asked the White House for federal assistance due to the “severity and magnitude” of the impact of the explosion. At least 41 buildings were damaged and communications systems – including home and cell phone services and 911 call centers – failed statewide, he said. Kentucky and northern Alabama have also been affected, he said.

Briefly stranded flights

Ray Neville, president of technology at T-Mobile, said on Twitter that service disruptions were affecting Louisville, Ky., Nashville, Knoxville, Tennessee, Birmingham, Ala. And Atlanta. “We are working diligently with our partner on catering. We apologize for any inconvenience. Updates to follow, ”he said in a tweet Friday night.

The outages had even briefly interrupted flights to Nashville International Airport, but service continued normally from Saturday.

According to Nashville Subway Police Chief John Drake, officers responded to a report of gunfire on Friday when they encountered the RV by yelling a recorded warning that a bomb would explode in 15 minutes. Police evacuated neighboring buildings and called the bomb squad. The RV exploded shortly after.

Law enforcement officials said they believed the blast was intentional but did not yet know a motive or target.

The explosion damaged dozens of buildings. (Nashville Fire Department / Reuters)

“This morning, I visited the site of the attack,” the governor tweeted on Saturday. “The damage is shocking and it is a miracle that no resident has been killed. [First lady Maria] and I continue to pray for those who were injured by the blast. ”

Lee was in quarantine after his wife contracted COVID-19. However, the Republican said the two tested negative, allowing the two to tour downtown Nashville. Lee said his wife had “made a full recovery”.

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Drake told reporters on Friday that investigators at the scene “have found tissue that we believe may be remains, but we’ll have them examined and let you know at that time.” No new information regarding the fabric was made available on Saturday.

Three people taken to area hospitals for treatment were in stable condition on Friday evening.

FBI investigation

The FBI has taken the lead in the investigation, agency spokesman Joel Siskovic said. Federal investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also participating in the investigation. The FBI is the primary law enforcement agency responsible for investigating federal crimes, such as explosives violations and acts of terrorism.

In West Virginia, a hospital system said on Saturday it was experiencing network connection issues directly related to the Nashville explosion. Thomas Health, based in South Charleston, which operates two hospitals, said on his Facebook page that he did not have an estimated time to eat.

Likewise, the Sumner Regional Medical Center in Gallatin, Tennessee, said on its Facebook page that it was operating without access to some of its systems, including medical records.

“We prepare for situations like this and immediately go to paper files. There has been no disruption in the delivery of patient care, and no reason to worry about this temporary problem, ”the center said in an article Friday.

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