9 Aug 2008

NZ 111 call answered in Manila

3:29 pm on 9 August 2008

A 111 call made by a Southland man early on Thursday morning was apparently answered by a woman in the Philippines.

Peter Mason of Lumsden says he called police on 111 after being woken by the noise of a car backfiring. He says he heard something heavy being dragged along the road and then the sound of the car taking off towards Queenstown.

The call was answered by a woman with a strong accent who did not know where Lumsden was. He asked her where she was and she answered: "Manila, the Philippines."

Mr Mason says he was then put through to a Christchurch call centre.

Telecom denies that this could have happened, as all of its emergency services call centres are in New Zealand.

Telecom spokesman Mark Watts says there is some confusion because records show the call did connect to the Christchurch call centre.

Mr Watts says no 111 calls are ever diverted overseas. Furthermore, he says the system is not physically engineered to permit this to happen.

Earlier, a spokesperson said Telecom did have a service centre in Manila, but to the best of her knowledge, it was technically impossible for a call to the emergency services to end up there.