The New York Times website suffers outage

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The New York Times began posting articles to Facebook Wednesday after an unspecified server issue took its website offline.

Visitors to the site, which claims to be the most viewed newspaper on the Web, were greeted with a “Http/1.1 Service Unavailable” message on an otherwise blank page.

The newspaper first acknowledged the problem via Twitter at just before noon EDT (4pm GMT) and the site came back online around 1:40pm EDT. When it did return a message said the most recent update had been at 11:07am EDT. If the site went down shortly afterward, that would mean a two-and-a-half hour outage.

Note: The Times reported that its website outage ended at about noon EDT and was not the result of a cyberattack.

“As you are undoubtedly aware, we are experiencing a server issue that has resulted in our email and Web site being unavailable,” the newspaper said on Twitter. “We believe the outage is the result of an internal issue, which we expect to be resolved soon. We will communicate further when we have more information.”

The failure also hit the website of The International Herald Tribune, a sister newspaper to the New York Times.

It came as major news was breaking in Egypt. The country’s interim government declared a state of emergency in the country after hundreds of protestors were killed or injured in afternoon clashes in Cairo. Coverage of the Egypt crisis was among the stories posted to Facebook.

The failure is an unusual one for one of the Internet’s most popular websites.

The newspaper site has been the repeated target of cyberattacks, although there was no immediate indication as to the cause of the suspected “server issue.”

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Updated throughout with new information at 12:19 p.m. PDT

Updated at 3:45 p.m. PDT--The New York Times reports its site is back up.

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