Published April 07, 2011
Internet service in all of Armenia was cut off for several hours when a 75-year old Georgian woman inadvertently cut the main service line between the two countries.
The woman was scavenging for scrap metal when she discovered the primary fiber-optic cable which runs through the two countries. Service went down when she apparently hacked into it with a shovel severing the line, officials said.
"She found the cable while collecting scrap metal and cut it with a view to stealing it," Georgian interior ministry spokesman Zura Gvenetadze told AFP.
The damage was apparently so severe that 90% of Armenian users lost access for nearly 12 hours while neighboring Georgia and some areas of Azerbajian were also affected.
Monitoring systems determined a break in the primary cable and a security team was immediately dispatched to investigate.
Christened the "spade-hacker" by the local media, authorities arrested the woman just outside the Georgian capitol of Tbilisi where they charged her for damaging property. If convicted, she could face three years in prison.
"Taking into account her advancing years, she has been released pending the end of the investigation and subsequent trial," Gvenetadze said.
"I cannot understand how this lady managed to find and damage the cable," the head of the company's marketing department, Giorgi Ionatamishvili, said.
The cable is owned by the Georgian railway network and is typically protected although heavy rain recently may have made the area more exposed.
Copper looting is a common means of making money in the former Soviet Union. Certain scavengers have been known to dig up hundreds of meters of cable.