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Communications cut off after powerful earthquake strikes southern Taiwan

Communications cut off after powerful earthquake strikes southern Taiwan

A strong earthquake off Taiwan's southern coast damaged undersea cables, cutting off phone and Internet service Wednesday to parts of China, South Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia and the United States, companies said. The temblor killed two people.
Repairing the cables harmed by Tuesday's 6.7-magnitude quake could take three weeks but "quality will improve day by day," said Lin Jen-hung, vice general manager of Chunghwa Telecom Co., Taiwan's largest phone company.
The company said damage to a cable off Taiwan's southern coast has interrupted 98 percent of Taiwan's communications capacity with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.
The damaged lines knocked out Internet service for some Hong Kong customers, who were unable to access Web sites in parts of Asia and the U.S.
Hong Kong telephone company PCCW Ltd., which also provides Internet service, said several undersea data cables were damaged in the quake.
"Data traffic to Taiwan, Korea, Japan and the United States are affected," PCCW said in a statement.
The company also warned customers that they may experience congestion for several days on the Internet because of an upsurge in use as people surf the Web for more information about the quake.
Financial traders in Hong Kong _ one of Asia's biggest business capitals _ complained they lost their connection to Bloomberg LP, a key provider of news and data about stock markets. Bloomberg declined to immediately comment on the outage.
Internet access has been cut or has become extremely slow in Beijing, said an official from China Netcom, China's No. 2 phone company.
The official, who would not give his name, said the cause was thought to be the earthquake, but he had not further details.
Businesses in various parts of the city also said they were experiencing Internet access problems.
CCTV, the state-run television network, said the earthquake had damaged undersea communications cables from China to the United States and from Asia to Europe.
It said China Telecom Corp., China's biggest phone company, was contacting counterparts in the United States and Europe about using satellites to make up for the shortfall.
KDDI Corp., Japan's major carrier for international calls, said Thursday that its fixed-line telephone service has been intermittently affected following the quake.
KDDI spokesman Haruhiko Maeda said that the quake damaged several undersea communication cables in southern Taiwan shared among international communication companies.
He said that customers are having trouble making calls to India and the Middle East, which are usually routed through cables near Taiwan. Maeda said the company is rerouting calls to go through the U.S. and Europe and the company does not know how long it will take to repair the cables.
Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that international roaming service provided by Japan's major three telecommunications _ NTT DoCoMO, KDDI, and Softbank, has been affected. Ministry official Akira Yamanaka said that some customers were unable to make calls using their mobile phones in countries including Taiwan.
The quake, which hit offshore from the town of Hengchun near Taiwan's southern tip, came on the second anniversary of the tsunami that killed more than 200,000 lives in southern Asia.
Tuesday's quake was felt throughout Taiwan. It shook buildings and knocked objects off the shelves in the capital, Taipei, in the northern part of the island. Two members of one family were killed Tuesday in Hengchun when their four-story home collapsed. The quake injured 42 people, three homes collapsed and 12 fires broke out, the National Fire Agency said.
Quakes frequently shake Taiwan, which is part of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. Most are minor and cause little or no damage. However, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in central Taiwan in September 1999 killed more than 2,300 people.


Updated : 2021-05-09 19:38 GMT+08:00