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World hit by internet outages

Yemen-based Houthi militants could have cut underwater cables in the Red Sea, several media outlets have claimed

Popular internet platforms owned by Meta – including Facebook, Instagram, and Threads – experienced global disruptions lasting for over two hours on Tuesday. Google services were affected to a lesser extent, with reports claiming that the outrages may have been caused by Houthi militants severing Red Sea cables.

Several Asia-based telecom operators warned as early as last week that four underwater internet cables had been severed in the Red Sea. In recent months, the area has seen repeated attacks on civilian cargo ships by Yemeni Houthi militants, who describe the assaults as retaliation for Israel’s military operation against Hamas in Gaza. The Houthis, however, have denied cutting internet cables in the region.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said the company was “aware people are having trouble accessing our services.” In a subsequent message, he put the disruptions down to a “technical issue,” without providing further details.

Around the same time, TeamYouTube, part of the broader Google group, said it had received “reports of loading issues” with the platform and was working to address the problem.

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On Monday, HGC Communications, a Hong Kong-based telecom operator, reported that four submarine internet cables had been “cut,” namely SEACOM, TGN, Africa Asia Europe-One, and the Europe India Gateway.

According to the company’s estimates, the incident affected 25% of its internet traffic. HGC Communications assured customers that it had a contingency plan in place, with traffic being rerouted through mainland China and the US.

The telecom operator released its first public statement on the incident last Thursday, describing it as an “exceptionally rare occurrence” that had caused a “significant impact on communication networks in the Middle East.”

Tata Communications, part of the Indian conglomerate behind the Seacom-TGN-Gulf line, also confirmed to AP that the line had been severed, with “immediate and appropriate remedial actions” underway.

Yemen’s Houthi-controlled Telecom Ministry issued a statement denying reports “by the Zionist-linked media outlets” that the armed group was responsible for damage to the cables. The Houthis are “keen to keep all submarine telecom cables… away from any possible risks,” the statement added.

March 06, 2024 at 03:20PM

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