15 Aug 2019

Shipping company at centre of Tonga internet cut ‘could have trapped’ cable

7:22 am on 15 August 2019

A shipping company being investigated in Tonga for allegedly sabotaging the country's internet admitted back in February it "could have trapped" an undersea cable.

A ship has arrived in Tonga to begin cable repairs

Specialist machinery was brought in to repair the Tongan undersea cable Photo: Twitter/ @tongaportal

The previously unreported comments come amid an ongoing police investigation into the January cut, which left Tonga drastically cut internet services for 12 days.

The Turkish company Duzgit has said it's co-operating with Tongan authorities, who have stayed mum on the investigation.

But RNZ Pacific can reveal the company's ship, the Duzgit Venture, was carrying fuel for the French oil giant Total when the cable was cut.

A Total spokesperson says Duzgit told it in February that it could have "trapped a cable with its anchor" in Tonga on the first day of the outage.

"The matter is under investigation by the chartered tanker which cooperates with the local authorities."

It's the first recorded admission of any wrongdoing by the company, which has been accused of involvement in a sabotage by Tonga's internet provider.

Tongan officials have said they will pursue damages against anyone responsible for the cable cut.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs