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Tonga Faces Weeks of Digital Darkness


A satellite image shows ash-covered homes and buildings in Tonga.

A repair ship is not expected to reach Tonga until Feb. 1, after a voyage of more than eight days. Then it will perform the difficult task of retrieving two sections of damaged cable from the ocean floor and splicing in replacements, with the threat of fu

Credit: Maxar Technologies

As in many remote Pacific nations, the island kingdom of Tonga is connected to the world by a single cable, roughly the width of a garden hose, that carries hair-thin optic fibers across a vast ocean bed.

That lone conduit is the means by which Siniva Filise, who lives in Wales and is part of the large Tongan diaspora, starts each day with a video call from her mother 10,000 miles away. "She's like the alarm — she doesn't care what time it is," Ms. Filise said. "She'll just call."

But for the past four days, the phone has been silent. Tonga's undersea cable was severed by a huge volcanic eruption on Saturday night, and the country now faces weeks of digital darkness as a repair ship prepares to make its way from Papua New Guinea.

From The New York Times
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