Damaged Cable Cuts Internet in Mideast

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Internet outages disrupted business and personal usage across a wide swathe of the Middle East on Wednesday after an undersea cable in the Mediterranean was damaged, government officials and Internet service providers said.

In Cairo, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said the cut in the international communications cable had led to a partial disruption of Internet services and other telecommunications across much of Egypt.

Emergency teams were quickly trying to find alternative routes, including satellite connections, to end the disruptions, Minister Tariq Kamel said. But service was still slow or nonexistent by late afternoon Wednesday.

A telecommunications expert at the Egyptian communications ministry, Rafaat Hindy, said the government was "engaged in efforts to try and overcome the consequences of the problem" but cautioned that "solving this could take days."

"Despite this being an international cable affecting many Gulf and Arab countries, we are closest to it and so we have a lot of responsibility," he said. "We are working as fast as we can."

Internet service also was disrupted in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which markets itself as a top Mideast business and luxury tourist hub. Both Internet service providers said international telephone service was also affected.

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