A loud whistling noise halted trading on 7 global stock markets for several hours

  • Last week the Nasdaq Nordic exchange was put out of order after a fire alarm in a Swedish data centre caused a fire suppression system to trigger.
  • The system made such a loud noise that it shut down servers for the Nasdaq.
  • The whistling sound may have damaged “the alignment of disk drives’ read-write heads to the data tracks,” according to Quartz.

LONDON – Stock market trading in seven European countries was knocked out for several hours last week with an unusual cause of the disruption – a loud whistling noise.

According to reports, trading on the Nasdaq Nordic platform was delayed for hours last Wednesday after a fire alarm was accidentally triggered at a data centre in Väsby, Sweden, a town near Stockholm.

The alarm caused the centre’s fire systems to trigger, which included a gas fire suppression system that made the whistling noise.

At the time, DigiPlex, the company running the data centre, said “there was no fire, but the fire system triggered the gas suppression system in the module of one of our customers.”

According to Quartz, such systems are often used in buildings with lots of sensitive equipment as traditional water-based sprinklers could cause damage to electronics.

The noise created by the system – which sprays high-pressure gases – was so loud that it damaged Nasdaq’s servers, leading to the outage. The whistling sound may have damaged “the alignment of disk drives’ read-write heads to the data tracks,” Quartz’s John Detrixhe said.

It halted trading on the stock markets of Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, as well as stock and fixed-income trading in Iceland.

“We will be closely investigating the issue with the data centre partner to determine the root cause and find a permanent resolution,” a spokesperson for Nasdaq said in a statement last week.

Fortunately, the outage occurred on a fairly quiet day in the markets, with Nordic bourses trading virtually flat.

The incident is not the first time a fire suppression system has caused damage to a major financial institution, with the BBC reporting in 2016 that a similar incident in a Romanian data centre caused an outage for customers of Dutch bank ING.

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