Police: Mauna Kea fiber optics cable network damaged

Published: Oct. 19, 2015 at 8:41 AM HST
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HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Big Island police are investigating damage to a fiber optics cable network on Mauna Kea mountain, the site of a hotly disputed project to build a massive telescope.

Police say an employee with Mauna Kea Observatories Support Services reported the damage on Thursday. The employee notified police after an investigation into what caused a malfunction of a buried fiber optical line linking observatories to the University of Hawaii network on June 24.

That's also the date when hundreds of protesters on the mountain blocked crews from resuming construction on a controversial telescope. Native Hawaiians who consider the mountain sacred oppose the Thirty Meter Telescope.

There are 13 telescopes atop Mauna Kea. The university is responsible for stewardship of the mountain. University spokesman Dan Meisenzahl says it appeared the cable was intentionally cut.

He says no service was interrupted at the observatories, although the GPS network and the earthquake monitoring network were affected.

Police say damage is estimated at $50,000.

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