This week, the trouble is about a thousand miles west of Alexandria, where January's first break happened. (8.3 kilometers from Alexandria, to be exact.)
There's been another cable break. Three, actually. Between Sicily and Tunisia. Europe, the Middle East and Asia are having trouble communicating with each other. There's still no word on what severed the cables.
A France Telecom spokesman said that whatever it was, it probably wasn't an attack.
When the January/February accident cluster happened, I wrote: "If a fourth, or fifth, or sixth cable gets cut in the next few days, I'll start re-evaluating my 'cluster of accidents' opinion."
This is way beyond "the next few days," so I don't have to re-evaluate.
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Quite a few people have been offline:
- India lost 65% of traffic
- Qatar and Djibouti, on the Gulf of Aden lost 70% of traffic
- Maldives Indian Ocean islands lost 100% of their traffic
- Saudi Arabia
So, do I think this is some kinda plot? No. Although I'm a little impressed at France Telecom's statement: "The causes of the cut, which is located in the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia, on sections linking Sicily to Egypt, remain unclear," followed closely by the assurance that it wasn't an attack.
I could imagine the scene in a movie: a massive communications blackout happens. The company spokesman comes on camera and says, "we don't know what happened, but we're sure it wasn't an attack." In a movie, that would a clue to the audience that it was an attack.
This is the real world, so it's possible that broken undersea cables in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf are accidents - the sort of thing that happens where there's a lot of traffic.
I'm getting increasingly interested in the growing number of coincidences, though.
Cut cables, earlier this year:
- Wednesday, January 30, 2008 -
Egypt undersea communications cables cut
- Friday, February 1, 2008 -
Persian Gulf undersea cable cut
(International Herald Tribune (February 1, 2008), BBC (February 4, 2008))
- "Cable Cuts, Accident Clusters, and the Information Age"
(February 2, 2008)
- "Severed cables bring down phone lines linking Europe, Asia, Mideast"
AFP (December 19, 2008)
- "The ten most noteworthy web and network incidents for 2008"
ComputerWeekly (December 19, 2008)
- "Internet provider in Emirates confirms undersea cable cut in Persian Gulf between Dubai, Oman, cause unknown"
International Herald Tribune (February 1, 2008)
- "New cable cut compounds net woes"
BBC (February 4, 2008)