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Google's popular email service Gmail, which has over a 110 million users worldwide, went offline at around 2 p.m. Tuesday, affecting users throughout the world, especially in Europe and India.

In a statement, Google said "a number of users" were having problems with Google Mail. "The outage itself lasted approximately two and a half hours from 0930 GMT. We know that for many of you this disrupted your working day. We're really sorry about this ... our engineers are still investigating the root cause of the problem," said Acacio Cruz, Gmail site reliability manager.

Now, Google is making amends for an e-mail outage by giving 15 days of free service to businesses, government agencies and other subscribers who pay for an expanded version of the product.

Apparently users accessing the web version of the email were experiencing problems, with the POP (post office protocol) downloading and mobile access through iPhone and Google's own G1 still working fine.

Users worldwide resorted to twitter, the Gmail thread registering about 100 tweets per second, to discuss the problems.

"Gmail is getting HTTP:502 errors from Gmail. Anyone else got this or does it just hate me today?" said a post on the twitter thread by sciamachy (screen name).

Not just that, another thread by the name of gfail was getting constant updates on the gmail snag.

"Trouble In The Clouds: Gmail Turns Into Gfail," crazyengineer posted on his tweet.

"We're aware of a problem with Gmail affecting a number of users. This problem occurred at approximately 1.30 a.m. Pacific Time. We're working hard to resolve this problem and will post updates as we have them," Google posted on its support page.

"We apologise for any inconvenience that this has caused," it added.

This is Google's second major technical failure in less than a month. In January, all Google search results were affected by what Google called a "manual failure" returning malware errors to every search query.

Google did not say how many clients were affected by the incident, but reports of trouble flooded the internet from all over the world.

Google stressed that problems with Gmail were very rare, but the incident was seen as a major embarrassment for the company, which is trying to persuade computer users to store more of their data online.

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