Orange Apologizes for Emergency-Phone Failure as Pressure Grows

Telecom operator Orange SA apologized for a network breakdown that caused emergency phone numbers in France to fail, possibly leading to several deaths, prompting President Emmanuel Macron to express concern.

“Orange presents its most sincere apology to those who have been affected over the past hours”, Orange Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard said in a tweet. Richard later said in a TV interview on Thursday that the situation was under control, a claim that was disputed by government ministers.

Wednesday afternoon, an equipment of Orange’s network in France broke down for a reason still unknown. Emergency numbers for the public were then hit, preventing people for calling firemen or police forces, as well as emergency care services.

Richard’s apology came after he was summoned early Thursday by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who called the failure unacceptable and said alternative emergency numbers would remain in place.

Pressure also came from President Macron, who said during a trip to Southern France that he was “very concerned.”

Health minister Olivier Veran said three or four deaths occurred during the breakdown but insisted it is still unclear if there’s a direct link. Authorities started a probe into the failure of several emergency numbers after a man in Brittany, Western France, was unable to get help in time and died late Wednesday evening, Agence France-Presse reported early Thursday.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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