Boat anchor cut cable, mainland says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 12:00am

Updated at 3.03pm:
China's telecommunications department said a fishing boat accidentally severed the undersea Internet cable fixed this week after a 10-day break.

Mainland investigators found that a fishing boat's heavy iron anchor had cut the cable, according to a report from Hefei-based Jianghuai Morning Post.

To avoid further mishaps, the China Undersea Cable Corp is sending patrol boats to enforce a fishing ban within two nautical miles on either side of the cable. It will also install a 24-hour radar monitor in the area.

A 1.2-tonne anchor usually sinks two metres into the ocean floor and tidal currents can drag it as far as four nautical miles. This movement threatens cables buried one or two metres below the seabed.

According to earlier state media reports, fishing boats severed or damaged telecommunications cables within China's ocean waters 18 times in 1999.

Chinese authorities announced last year that they would phase out the boats most likely to cause problems. However, the Jianghuai Morning Post cited a survey saying the number of these boats is increasing. About 1,500 of them fish off the coast of east China's Zhejiang province.

The February 9 break made Net connections between China and North America slow to impossible. Internet users in Taiwan, Japan, Korea and Singapore were also affected. The cable was repaired and Internet links restored Monday evening.

The telecom department said the repair bill could come to six million yuan (about HK$5.85 million) and cause "immeasurable" indirect losses, the paper reported.