updated 6/30/2005 9:11:01 PM ET 2005-07-01T01:11:01

A major disruption in Pakistan's Internet services went into its fourth day on Thursday, and an official said it would take at least two more days to fix the problem.

A fault was detected Monday in the undersea communications cable linking Pakistan's Internet users with the rest of the world. The damage was more than 50 kilometers (30 miles) out in the Arabian Sea southwest off Karachi, Pakistan's main port.

About 10 million Internet subscribers were affected across the country. Many Internet cafes have been temporarily shut down.

Officials from state-run Pakistan Telecommunication Co. Ltd., or PTCL, have said they are using a satellite backup to ease the Internet disruption, as well as some related international telephone and cell phone problems.

Domestic telephone lines were working normally, said PTCL spokesman Ali Qadir Gilani.

Repair work on the cable has started, a PTCL spokesman said Thursday.

A repair ship has arrived from Dubai and "will pull up the cable (to the surface), then workers will remove the fault and it will be lowered into the sea again," Gilani said. "This will take the next two, three days."

He said experts had made some success in removing the fault and "situation will improve this week."

Airlines, banks and the country's main stock exchange in the southern city of Karachi _ some of the worst-hit sectors relying heavily on the Internet _ have been put on the satellite backup, said Mushkoor Hussain, another PTCL official.

Hussain told Geo television that another communications cable will be laid later this year so a similar disruption does not occur in the future.

Pakistan is connected to the Internet by a single undersea fiber link called Southeast Asia, Middle East and Western Europe-3 (SEAMEWE-3).

It was the second time in three months that Pakistan's Internet connections have been disrupted, with a similar fault suspending service in April, Dow Jones Newswires reported on Tuesday.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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