Taiwan quake interrupts telecommunications across Asia

Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 06:00 Hrs
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Taipei: A strong earthquake in Taiwan damaged three undersea cables linking the island with southeast Asia, Europe and the US, affecting millions of Internet and telephone users across Asia.

Tuesday's 6.7 quake with its epicenter 22.8 km under the ocean floor off Henghcun on Taiwan's southern tip has been followed by hundreds of aftershocks.

Two people have died, 48 injured and several buildings have collapsed from the quake and aftershocks.

Chunghwa Telecom Co, Taiwan's telecommunication giant, has activated its backup system and is relying on two remaining undersea cables.

"Repairing the undersea cables will take two to three weeks," Chunghwa Telecom spokesperson Lin Jen-hung told media persons. The company also promised to compensate clients by charging lower fees.

Chunghwa said telephone calls to the US are down to 40 percent of normal capacity, while calls to China are down to 10 percent, and 11 percent for Japan.

The damaged submarine cables substantially slowed down Internet traffic in China, which has more than 100 million users, and affected foreign web pages.

Service is "interrupted," said a spokesperson of China Netcom in Beijing.

Service was also interrupted in Hong Kong, Thailand and as far away as Singapore, said providers Star Hub and Singapore Telecommunications.

SingTel said its undersea cable link with Europe was not affected.

Source: IANS
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