As usual, this morning when I got up the first thing I did was to check my mail. But for some reason the server from Spill Group Asia timed out. That happens sometimes, so I was not too concerned. Then I noticed that none of my colleagues at SGA were online in MSN, and that is more unusual. I suspected that the internet in the office was down, until I noticed that some were online in Skype.
At the same time I started checking my RSS feeds, and quickly realized from several blog posts that the problems were caused by the Taiwan earthquake yesterday. Some cables on the bottom of the sea were damaged, and these were vital for worldwide communications. Strange enough at that time I did not see any US or European media reports yet about this problem, the blogs beat the press bureaus once again. Now the first reports finally start coming in, but it’s not even on the front page of Google News yet (and maybe it will never make it there, Google News is never that interested in foreign, let alone Asian, news). Repairs may take two to three weeks according to this article on Bloomberg.
It seems this earthquake is having a huge impact on Asia. Not only the internet in China is severely disrupted, but also the net in Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and even Singapore. I talked to my colleagues, and heard that MSN messenger is not working at all (good for QQ messenger in China!). And when I try to go to game.com.cn or tudou.com from Europe, I cannot open these sites. Friends in China and HK are telling me that they cannot open most sites, that they cannot use email (except Gmail), and that the internet is generally very slow. This is costing tons of money, and I wonder if any insurance policies cover this (likely not).
I am surprised that such a “small” natural disaster can still have such a huge impact. I remember that something similar happened a few years ago, when a fishing boat tore apart one of these cables (also close to Taiwan if I remember it correctly). The Chinese internet was disrupted for days. At that time the internet was not so important yet for most people, but that has changed of course. I assumed this could not happen again, but it seems I was wrong. Who would be in charge of this? And what would happen if terrorists would damage a couple of these cables worldwide? Scary…