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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 07:20 GMT
Satellite loss cuts Pacific links
Many remote areas of the Pacific have been cut off from the outside world after the loss of a telecommunications satellite.

The $73m Intelsat IS-804 satellite went out of alignment on Saturday, according to New Zealand telecom authorities.

Its loss has prevented contact with 10 Pacific island nations and territories, as well as affecting many other countries in the region.

Three days on, some areas are still without international links.

Intelsat called the loss of its satellite "an extremely rare event", adding that "our first priority must be restoration of service to our customers".

Since the incident, communications with the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands and Western Samoa have been restored through alternative satellites.

Scott Base in Antarctica has made use of emergency-only backup services.

But American Samoa, Kiribati, Niue, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are still without outside telecommunication links.

These islands still have local phone and data services, but people living there are currently unable to make international calls or access foreign internet sites.

"Bank services, [electronic cash] services ... and airline data circuits have also been impacted, and this could lead to some flight delays to and from these locations," said Sarah Berry, a spokeswoman for Telecom New Zealand, which rented capacity on the lost satellite.

Other countries affected by the loss include South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vietnam, but they were able to switch immediately to a backup system.

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