Comms Down

PARIS, December 19, 2008 (AFP) – Internet and telephone communications between Europe, the Middle East and Asia were severely disrupted Friday after three undersea cables were damaged in the Mediterranean, France Telecom said. “The causes of the cut, which is located in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia, on sections linking Sicily to Egypt, remain unclear,” a statement said, while a spokesman said it was unlikely to have been an attack.

The company said it was sending a ship to fix the lines but that it would not arrive until Monday and that it could take until December 31 before normal service was restored.

Most business-to-business traffic between Europe and Asia was being rerouted through the United States, the firm said, but regular communications between Europe and several Asian countries has been disrupted since early Friday.

Sixty-five per cent of traffic to India was down, while services to Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Taiwan and Pakistan were also severely affected, a spokesman said Friday evening.

An afternoon toll released by France Telecom said that 100 percent of traffic was lost in the Maldives Indian Ocean islands, with the Gulf state of Qatar and Djibouti, on the