(Adds more details from FCC report, U.S. Virgin Islands outages)
WASHINGTON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - More than 95 percent of Puerto Rico’s wireless cell sites were not working on Thursday after Hurricane Maria caused massive damage in the U.S. territory, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement the hurricane “has had a catastrophic impact on Puerto Rico’s communications networks” and that “getting Puerto Rico’s communications networks up and running will be a challenging process, particularly given the power outages throughout the island.” Maria knocked out nearly the entire electricity grid in Puerto Rico when it hit the islands as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday, hours after raking St Croix, the largest and southern-most of the U.S. Virgin Islands, as a rare Category 5. The FCC said in its report on Thursday that 48 out of the 78 counties in Puerto Rico have 100 percent of cell sites out of service.
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, 76.6 percent of cell sites are out of service, the FCC said.
The FCC noted that with widespread power outages in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, large percentages of consumers are without either cable services or internet service. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown and Sandra Maler)