Tuesday, June 28, 2005
Pakistan cut off from world by under-sea cable fault
Pakistan's Internet and cell phone links with the rest of the world were severed Tuesday by a fault in a key submarine cable that engineers said could take two weeks to repair. Millions of people were affected by the breakdown in the main fibre-optic link beneath the Arabian Sea 35 kilometers south of Karachi, which was detected late Monday, officials and Internet service providers said. The complex repair work may require a complete shut down, potentially causing disruption in India, the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti and Oman, which are also linked to the damaged cable, officials said. "This is a highly sophisticated operation and only specialised companies can undertake such a delicate task under the sea," Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) chief engineer Shahid Ahmed said. "Pakistan has no such ability." The cable is owned by a consortium of 92 countries with Singtel of Singapore acting as its operating agents. "We are holding a multilateral conference to fix the problem and asked Singtel to arrange for the rectification of the fault," Ahmed said. He said Singtel has appointed E-Marine, a UAE-based company, to fix the fault. They had dispatched a ship which may take 18 to 24 hours to reach the site, he added.