Undersea Telecom Cables Mysteriously Cut, Digitally Stranding India and Middle East

One of today's biggest stories is the fact that India and the Middle East had about 75% of their digital connection to Europe cut off when two cables on the floor of the Mediterranean snapped under mysterious circumstances. Cables get damaged all the time, but never have two gone out simultaneously. It will take days, or even a week to repair the cables. No one knows the cause—or do they? See update below.

The cables, branded Flag Telecom and SEA-ME-WE 4, for "Southeast Asia, Middle East, Western Europe", were severed in their runs between Palermo, Italy and Alexandria, Egypt. Data is being rerouted, in some cases "around India and back through Asia to the U.S." Outages or lousy connections have been experienced in India as well as Egypt, Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. (Insert sheik-surfing-the-porno joke here.)

According to the AP story, "There has been speculation...that an illegally or improperly anchored ship caused the problem. Our best guess is Godzilla of course, but some sort of Bond villain may be to blame. (Insert Dick-Cheney-not-ruling-out-terror joke here.)

Update: Mystery solved? This article, dated Jan. 30, seems to have clear information on the shipping debacle that caused the havoc:

"For some reason ships were asked to anchor in a different place to normal - 8.3km from the beach. One of the ship's anchors cut our cable but there are multiple cuts—we're not the only company having problems," says a Flag Telecom spokesman.

[AP; More from AP; The Internet Patrol]