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Matsu undersea cable repaired ending 50 day internet outage

First of two cables repaired, second cable repair to begin in coming months

A night view of Taiwan's Matsu Islands. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau photo)

A night view of Taiwan's Matsu Islands. (Taiwan Tourism Bureau photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An undersea cable connecting Taiwan to the outlying island of Matsu has been repaired, ending 50 days without internet for the island group's 14,000 people.

The Director of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Matsu office Wen Lii (李問) announced on twitter Friday (March 31) that the TAIMA No. 3 undersea cable was successfully repaired at 4.50 p.m. on the same day, and said the other severed cable, TAIMA No. 2, will be repaired over the next two months. The two cables connecting Matsu to Taiwan were damaged by Chinese vessels on Feb. 2 and 8, causing the islands to lose internet.

Lii said the incident “has sparked many conversations about the need for Taiwan to strengthen the security and resilience of the nation's telecommunications.” Chunghwa Telecom has said two more cables will be laid to link Taiwan with its outlying islands, scheduled for completion in 2024 and 2025.

The National Communications Commission (NCC) said on Feb.17 that according to Chunghwa Telecom, the cables were damaged by a fishing vessel and a cargo vessel, both Chinese. There has been speculation that the cables were damaged deliberately, however Chunghwa Telecom has said it will not comment on allegations of foul play.

Matsu has also faced transport issues recently, with out of action cargo ships causing food shortages in early March. The shortages made headlines after soldiers based on Matsu wrote “S.O.S” style messages in the sand on the island’s beaches complaining about the lack of food.

There have been more than 20 incidents of cables between Taiwan and Matsu being damaged in the past five years, according to Chunghwa Telecom.