April 7, 2011

Elderly Woman Knocks Armenia Off The Internet

An elderly Georgian woman accidentally sliced through an underground cable and cut off Internet services to all of neighboring Armenia on Wednesday, reports the Guardian.

The 75-year-old woman had been digging for the metal not far from the capital Tbilisi when she damaged the fiber-optic cable on March 28.

Georgia provides 90 percent of Armenia's Internet, and the woman knocked the country's 3.2 million people offline.  Television pictures showed reporters at a news agency in the capital Yerevan staring glumly at blank screens.

Large parts of Georgia and some areas of Azerbaijan were also affected.

"It was a 75-year-old woman who was digging for copper in the ground so that she could sell it for scrap," a spokesman for Georgia's interior ministry said yesterday.

The woman is being investigated on suspicion of damaging property.  She faces up to three years in prison if charged and convicted.

A spokesman for Georgia's interior ministry said the woman was temporarily released "on account of her old age" but could face more questioning.

The damage was detected by a system monitoring the fiber-optic link from western Europe and a security team was immediately dispatched to the spot.  The woman was arrested at that stop and the interior ministry said she had no accomplices.

The cable is owned by the Georgian railway network and it is heavily protected, but landslides and heavy rain may have exposed it.

Pulling up unused copper cables for scrap is a common way for people to make money in the former Soviet Union.