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A Cable In The Middle Of The Ocean Broke And Now Tonga Has Almost No Internet

And it could be two weeks until everything is restored.

Posted on January 23, 2019, at 6:58 a.m. ET

Hannah Peters / Getty Images

Authorities in Tonga have blocked access to social media after damage to an underwater cable caused a near-total internet blackout.

Tonga, a remote archipelago of around 169 islands that is home to just over 100,000 people in the South Pacific Ocean, unexpectedly lost its connection Sunday.

It’s believed that a 514-mile cable stretching between Tonga and Fiji was damaged by bad weather.

As authorities scramble to fix the problem, they have blocked all social media networks so the limited bandwidth available — provided by a satellite dish — can be used for vital services.

22 'o Sanuali, 2019 ‘Oku kei hokohoko atu pē �...

"We are forced to prioritize traffic and put higher priority on things that matter," Paula Piveni Piukala, director of Tonga Cable, told Radio New Zealand, adding that 80% of the country's internet traffic was through social media.

The internet could remain down for two to three weeks.

A repair vessel is currently docked in Samoa and could take three days to reach the damaged cable. After that, the repairs could take up to three weeks.

@MichaelFieldNZ Only if you want to (a) stay in touch with the rest of the world (b) do pālangi things (c) get out of the country. Otherwise life seemed to be going on as normal. Fixed? “Maybe three hours”!!!

"It is a national problem," Sione Veikoso, a technical manager at Tonga Telecommunications Corporation, told local news site Matangi.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.