Quake-hit Web links restored in Asia

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Quake-hit Web links restored in Asia

Six weeks of repairs cost tens of millions.

Asian telecoms cables damaged in an earthquake late last year have been fully repaired, restoring internet links to the region, Hong Kong authorities announced yesterday.

"The earthquakes which occurred near Taiwan on 26 December caused serious damage to six submarine cable systems supporting Hong Kong's external telecoms services," said a spokesman for the Hong Kong government's Office of the Telecommunications Authority. 

"We are pleased to note that the repair of these cable systems is completed and all our external telecoms services, including internet access, have been fully restored."

Two violent magnitude seven quakes in the space of five minutes either directly severed undersea cables, or triggered undersea landslides that buried and broke the data links.

Six cables passing around the south east coast of Taiwan were cut, some in more than one location. The links normally carry more than 80 per cent of East Asia's voice and data traffic.

In the weeks following the quake, foreign websites loaded very slowly or were even inaccessible for many people in east Asian nations. Websites hosted in the affected areas were equally hard to reach for outsiders. Telephone links were also hit.

Repair ships were delayed by winter storms and the difficulty of locating multiple broken sections, but telecoms firms were able to partially restore service by using alternative routes which avoided the broken cables. 

While the effects of the quake were dramatic, statistically earthquakes rank only slightly above attacks from sharks and other fish as a cause of undersea cable damage, according to data from Alcatel. 

More than two thirds of all cable damage is caused by fishing trawlers.
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