Errant Anchor Blamed for Knocking Island Nation Offline

When the Indian ship State of Nagaland dropped anchor in the Sri Lankan port of Colombo Sunday, its crew probably expected it to be a routine event. Instead, the ship is being detained in Colombo under court order, with Sri Lanka Telecom asserting that its anchor severed the island nation's connection to the Internet.

"We have lost connectivity to global Internet due to failure in the international submarine cable system," SLT said in a statement, adding that a satellite uplink was being used to restore connectivity, but was only able to provide "limited capacity." The telecom provider said 800,000 customers were without Internet access, and attributed the cable failure to the State of Nagaland's anchor. The damage could take several more days to repair, the company said.

Sri Lanka's top-level domain (.lk) was used by 1,876 sites in July. Some sites hosted at LankaCom were available early Tuesday night, as was the Sri Lanka Telecom site, but both sites were extremely slow. But Sri Lanka's official government site and .lk domain registry were not responding.

The damage to the SEA-ME-WE-III submarine cable (short for South East Asia-Middle East– Western Europe) occurred about six miles (9 kilometers) from the shore at Mount Lavinia, the landing point for the cable. In a court petition, SLT alleged that the State of Nagaland was the only vessel in the area at the time of the cut, and that the damage could not have occurred through natural means.