Power partly restored in Bangladesh

Power partly restored in Bangladesh

Saturday, November 1, 2014 9:14 pm

Bangladesh patient in hospital during the blackout

Bangladesh patient in hospital during the blackout

Power was restored in most parts of Bangladesh late Saturday, some 12 hours after a massive nationwide electricity blackout hit the country, plunging Dhaka and other cities into total darkness.

Authorities said local engineers managed to fix plants supplying 3,600 megawatts of power — covering some 70 percent of clients — by 11.30 pm Bangladesh time (1730 GMT).

“We hope power supply will be fully restored by early Sunday morning,” Saiful Hasan, a power ministry spokesman, told AFP.

Loud cheers could be heard in Dhaka late Saturday as the lights came back on phase by phase in large parts of the capital, after thousands of residents spent hours outdoors or on their roofs.

The city of 15 million people had looked like a ghost town as dusk descended, with homes, businesses and shops plunged into darkness.

Mosques which use loudspeakers to call for prayers five times a day also fell eerily silent.

Authorities blamed the outage in the densely-populated nation of 155 million on a transmission line failure.

Water supplies were hit as most of the pumps which lift groundwater could not function.

“I don’t know how such a disaster can happen,” fumed laundry operator Ataul Hakim.

Fish traders were furious at a lack of ice to keep their supplies fresh. One trader, Robiul Islam, said he would lose 5,000 taka ($70) as he could not preserve his stock.

The blackout occurred just before midday.

Local media said the problem stemmed from a technical problem at an electrical substation distributing power from India, but government officials would not confirm the reports.

All areas linked to the national electricity grid had been hit, another senior power ministry official, Masud Alberuni, told AFP.

The national grid “tripped” and “all the power-generating stations in the country automatically shut down in a cascading effect,” Alberuni said.

The outage marked the first time the whole country has been without power since November 2007 when Bangladesh was hit by a devastating cyclone, Alberuni added.

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