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Repairs complete on 2 Internet cables

/ Source: The Associated Press

Traffic has returned to normal on undersea Internet cables in the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf that were cut last month, causing disruptions across the Middle East and parts of Asia, cable owner FLAG Telecom said Monday.

Repair ships completed work over the weekend on both the FALCON cable in the Persian Gulf 35 miles north of Dubai and the FLAG Europe-Asia cable about 5 miles north off the Egyptian port city of Alexandria, U.K.-based FLAG said in a statement on its Web site.

The Gulf cable carries Web traffic between Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and the Mediterranean cable carries it from Africa to Sicily.

FLAG, which stands for Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe, earlier said an abandoned anchor caused the Persian Gulf cut, but it provided no details. The other cut is still being investigated, the company said.

It remained unclear Monday whether a third cable that parallels FLAG's Mediterranean cable — it's called South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 cable and is owned by a consortium of 16 companies — has been repaired. The consortium could not be reached, and FLAG did not work on that cable.

The cuts slowed businesses, hampered personal Internet usage and caused a flurry of speculation, including mentions of sabotage.

Government authorities and FLAG refused to comment on the speculation.

The incident underlined the threats that Internet disruptions could pose to organizations and businesses worldwide.

Large-scale Internet disruptions are rare, but East Asia suffered nearly two months of outages and slow service after an earthquake damaged undersea cables near Taiwan in December 2006.