On December 19, 2008, Friday, SEA-ME-WE 3 (SMW3), SEA-ME-WE 4(SMW4) and FLAG FEA undersea cable cuts occured at 7:28 a.m., 7:33 a.m. and 8:06 a.m. respectively. The undersea cables were cut in the region where they run under the sea between Egypt and Italy. Seabone also went out Thursday evening in the same region. The undersea cables carry an estimated 90 percent of all data traffic between Europe and the Middle East.
The SMW 4 and FLAG cables were among five undersea cables damaged earlier this year in January and February in the Mediterranean, launching a flurry of conspiracy theories before investigations revealed that at least one of the cuts was caused by a ship’s anchor. When those cables went down, SMW 3 was used to re-route traffic. But this time, SMW 3 is reportedly involved in the outage as well.
The cable cuts caused traffic to be re-routed through the United States and elsewhere, disrupting internet access and phone service between the Middle East, Europe, and parts of Asia.
14 Countries are affected, including:
- Saudi Arabia: 55% out of service
- Djibouti: 71% out of service
- Egypt: 52% out of service
- United Arab Emirates: 68% out of service
- India: 82% out of service
- Lebanon: 16% out of service
- Malaysia: 42% out of service
- Maldives: 100% out of service
- Pakistan: 51% out of service
- Qatar: 73% out of service
- Syria: 36% out of service
- Taiwan: 39% out of service
- Yemen: 38% out of service
- Zambia: 62% out of service