23 Dec 2008

Repairs start on Mediterranean telecoms cables

1:58 pm on 23 December 2008

Work has begun to fix damaged submarine cables under the Mediterranean which are disrupting Internet and international telephone service in parts of the Middle East and south Asia.

Experts arrived at the site of the damage between Sicily and Tunisia on a cable ship at 1330 GMT on Sunday.

France Telecom said a remotely operated submarine robot was sent down to track the cables.

Damage to the SEA-ME-WE3, SEA-ME-WE4 and FLAG cables, which are owned by different consortiums, occurred at at about 0730 GMT on Friday.

France Telecom said it was unclear how long it would take the robot to locate the cables as they may have dragged them several kilometers from their normal positions by a ship's anchor.

The robot will bring the affected parts aboard the "Raymond Croze" ship for repairs to be carried out in a special facility before putting them back at the bottom of the sea.

France Telecom expects to have repaired SEA-ME-WE4 by 25 December and SEA-ME-WE3 by the end of the year. The FLAG cable will be repaired by another cable ship.