Broken sea cable cuts phone lines in eastern Libya

TRIPOLI Wed Jan 9, 2013 1:25pm EST

TRIPOLI Jan 9 (Reuters) - A break in an undersea cable brought down phone and Internet lines across eastern Libya on Wednesday and forced the closure of the airport in the country's second-largest city Benghazi, the government said.

The cable was cut when it got tangled in a fishing boat's equipment, said the minister of communications and information, Osama Syala.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said the cable connected Benghazi to the towns of Mesaad and Brega and technicians were working to repair it.

Libya has been restoring its telecom network slowly since a war in 2011, when leader Muammar Gaddafi cut off mobile communications between his base in the west and the rebel-held east.

Mobile networks are now working but are not always reliable and Internet speeds are among the slowest in the world. (Reporting By Ali Shuaib; Writing By Hadeel Al-Shalchi; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)