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OPERATORS FOR US WEST ARE SWAMPED

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An expanded crew of US WEST Communications operators worked overtime to answer a barrage of calls from customers unable to reach loved ones in the Bay area Tuesday night.

"Our operators were swamped even though we don't make out-of-state calls," said Gay Child, night supervisor of US WEST Service Links in Salt Lake City. "We had to bring people in overtime, and still by 6:30 p.m. we were in deflect (calls were waiting.)"Child said local operators initially referred customers to their out-of-state carriers, but callers were futher frustrated by recordings that said "all circuits are busy now. Please try your call later."

As typical in all disasters, AT&T circuits were saved for people trying to call out of the area, a representative said.

A Sprint representative reported that those operators were successful in putting a few calls through from Utah to San Francisco.

But the majority of Sprint's customers also received a recording instead of the reassuring voice of a family member.

By 6 a.m., calls were still stacked up, and many Utahns had still not contacted family and friends in areas affected by the quake.