4 September 2014

Egypt: Country Hit By Largest Blackout in Years

The most extensive blackout in years caused hours of frustration and travel chaos across Egypt. Water delivery and telecommunications systems were also affected.

Egypt suffered a massive blackout during the peak of the morning rush hour on Thursday, crippling metro lines in the capital of Cairo and causing traffic chaos across the city of some 20 million.

The outage occurred at 6 a.m. local time (3 a.m. UTC) and was the most extensive to hit Egypt in years, with telecommunications and water supply systems also affected by the power cuts.

The situation is improving according to Egyptian authorities. "Most of the power has been restored, the metro is working and so are water and sanitation plants," energy ministry spokesperson Mohamed al-Yamani told Agence France Press.

The blackout was caused by a malfunctioning circuit west of Cairo, according to the energy ministry.

Blackouts and power shortages have long plagued Egypt, and served to fuel discontent with former President Mohammed Morsi before his ouster in 2013. The country suffers from electrical outages even in more affluent areas, and its burgeoning population places a heavy strain on the ageing electrical grid.

The Egyptian government recently promised to end the frequent blackouts, and blamed them in part on attacks on electrical lines by saboteurs.

The outages also affected several TV channels, and some used the occasion to sarcastically call attention to Egypt's historically restrictive television broadcasting regulation.

bw/sb (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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