NEW DELHI - For a while, the World Wide Web wasn't so worldwide.
Two cables that carry Internet traffic under the Mediterranean Sea snapped, disrupting service yesterday across a swath of Asia and the Middle East.
India took one of the biggest hits, and the damage from its slowdowns and outages affected some US and European companies that rely on its lucrative outsourcing industry to handle customer service calls and other operations.
"We're able to work, but the system is very slow," said Anurag Kuthiala, a system engineer at the New Delhi office of Symantec Corp., a California security software maker.
While the cause of the damage was not yet known, the scope was wide: Traffic slowed on the Dubai stock exchange, and there was concern that workers who labor for the well-off in the Mideast might not be able to send money home to poor relatives.
Although disruptions to larger US firms were not widespread, the outage raised questions about the Internet's vulnerability. One analyst called it a "wake-up call," and another cautioned that no one was immune.
The cables, north of the Egyptian port of Alexandria, were snapped Wednesday just as the working day was ending in India, so the full impact was not apparent until yesterday. There was speculation a ship's anchor might be to blame. The two cables, named FLAG Europe Asia and SEA-ME-WE 4, are in close proximity.
Egyptian officials said initial attempts to reach the cables were stymied by poor weather. Repairs could take a week.
Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain all reported trouble.