Cable Cut

HONG KONG, Dec 27, 2006 (AFP) – Internet and phone services were disrupted across much of Asia on Wednesday after an earthquake damaged undersea cables, leaving one of the world’s most tech-savvy regions in a virtual blackout. “If there is too much traffic on that route, it might get blocked up and further slow down Internet connections,” Ito said.

From frustrated traders seeking in vain for stock quotes to anxious newshounds accustomed to round-the-clock updates on world events, millions of people from China to Japan to Australia were believed to have been affected.

There was no chaos on the stock exchanges or any of the other doomsday scenarios of science fiction, but reports that services could be down for weeks were dramatic enough.

“It is not a matter of days,” said Hong Seoung-Yong, an official with South Korea’s information and communication ministry. “It will take longer than that to repair the damaged lines.”

A 7.1-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Taiwan on Tuesday night, which was followed by several smaller quakes in the region, apparently damaged the vast network of underwater cables that enables modern communication.

“The Internet capacity in Taiwan is about 40 percent now, so the service