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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 22:59 GMT
Dutch royal chat session crashes
Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and his bride-to-be, Maxima Zorreguieta
Surprise three billion hits registered by operator
An internet chat session featuring the Dutch crown prince and his Argentinian fiancee ahead of their wedding next week came to an abrupt end after the site experienced an unexpectedly large number of hits.

The possibility of sabotage has been raised by network operator KPN, which has apologised to the couple and said it was investigating.

The company had been anticipating tens of thousands of callers to log on to the live session with Prince Willem-Alexander and Maxima Zorreguieta on Tuesday.

Jorge Videla
Maxima's father was an associate of the notorious Videla regime
But the response far exceeded predictions.

"Seeing that we registered three billion calls, we reckon there may have been a deliberate attack", said KPN spokesman Brad Oudshorn.

One hundred people had been selected to chat online with the royal couple about their 2 February wedding, while others were permitted to log on and watch the exchange.

In the opening minutes of the session, however, screens across the country went blank.

Correspondents say it is not immediately clear who caused the crash or whether it was intended as a political protest.

They say the prince's relationship sparked controversy last year when it emerged that Miss Zorreguieta's father had been a civilian minister when Argentina was ruled by the military between 1976 and 1983.

See also:

09 Apr 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Wedding blues for Dutch monarchy
20 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
White House dodges web virus
09 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Yahoo attack exposes web weakness
11 Feb 00 | UK
A - Z: Hack attack
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