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Google Search Goes Down Around the World, Chaos Ensues

The outage, which lasted about an hour, came several hours after an "electrical incident" at a Google data center in Iowa. Google says the events are unrelated.

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SOPA Images/Getty

People around the world were reminded how central Google is to their lives in 2022 when, for a brief period Monday, Google Search went down in dozens of countries. Other Google services, like Google Maps, were affected too. 

Reports of an outage started flowing into DownDetector, a website that monitors service disruptions, around 6:11 p.m. PT. The outage peaked 30 minutes later before subsiding. The problems hit countries across the globe, from Portugal to Pakistan. 

Instead of answers and links, people who tried to use Google Search saw the following error message: "The server encountered an error and could not complete your request."

The outage followed an "electrical incident" earlier in the day at a Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, according to local media and SFGate. The incident critically injured three electricians around midday Iowa time. One person was flown to a nearby hospital and the other two were transported by ambulance.

The Iowa site is one of 14 Google data centers in the US. Based on the money Google has invested there, the Iowa facility appears to be one of the company's most significant data centers. The Silicon Valley giant spent $5 billion on the Council Bluffs center, according to its website, while most of the other centers cost between $1 billion and $2 billion.  

A Google spokesperson, however, told CNET that the two incidents were unrelated.

"We're aware of a software update issue that occurred late this afternoon Pacific Time and briefly affected availability of Google Search and Maps, and we apologize for the inconvenience," the spokesperson said. "We worked to quickly address the issue and our services are now back online."