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Undersea Cable Repairs Could Take 2 More Weeks
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Three weeks after a strong earthquake jolted sea areas south of the island of Taiwan, its impact is being felt by Internet users plagued by slow connectivity.

It will take up to two weeks more to repair the undersea cables that were damaged, sources said yesterday. The original deadline was for them to be fully operational by yesterday.

The quake, measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale, ruptured fiber-optic cables that cross the ocean floor south of Taiwan, affecting telecommunication traffic between the mainland and Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe. Millions of people on the mainland are enduring slow Internet speeds after the quake.

Referring to the earlier statement that repairs would be finished by the middle of this month, sources at China Telecom the country's largest telecom operator said that work was slow because of complicated undersea conditions.

"We are informed that because of the intricate undersea conditions and capricious weather, the whole work might take a few more days to complete," an official from the public relations department of China Telecom said.

"We are as anxious as most people, but the repair work is done by the other companies we commissioned," she said.

China News Service quoted sources with China Netcom, the country's second largest telecom operator, as also saying that the repair might be completed by the end of this month.

An AFP report attributed the slow repair to workers painstakingly dragging the seabed with old, time-tested technology.

The report said crewmen on boats south of Taiwan are dragging the seabed with grappling hooks at the end of long ropes to recover cables about 4,000 meters down in the sea.

The report quoted the general manager of one of the firms engaged in underwater repairs as saying that the whole process could take up to six weeks.

(China Daily January 16, 2007)

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