Egypt minister apologizes for massive blackout

Apologizing for the massive blackout, Egypt’s Minister of Electricity Ahmed Shaker says the outage was not ‘intentional’

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Egypt’s Minister of Electricity Ahmed Shaker has apologized after the country suffered a massive power outage that affected some hospitals, halted parts of the Cairo subway, took TV stations off the air and saw much of the country grind to a halt for several hours on Thursday.

After Egypt lost 50 percent of its power generation, Sahker said the outage was not “intentional.”

“There are no indications the outage was intentional and I will not come to any conclusion until after a thorough investigation,” Ahram Online quoted him as saying, adding that the outage was not caused by fuel shortages.

He also said the national electricity grid could only produce up to 11,000 mega-watts, much less than the earlier figure of 20,000 mega-watts produced before the country was engulfed in political turmoil.

The mass outage was far more severe and wide-ranging than any of the previous cuts, The Associated Press reported.

According to officials in the central and southern provinces of Assiut, Minya, and Sohag, hospitals suffered during the outages, which left dialysis machines, X-ray machines and operation rooms out of service, the Associated Press added.

The outage began at 6 a.m., causing paralysis in many areas across the country, including the Nile Delta and southern provinces. Nearly 12 hours later, electricity officials said they had restored 85 percent of the lost power.

Local TV networks showed metro stations packed with commuters after trains stopped. The spokesman for the city’s metro system, Ahmed Abdel-Hadi, said the trains connecting Cairo’s southern suburbs to downtown were halted.

The blackout came barely three months after Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, former army chief, was elected president on promises to restore order after three years of turmoil following the 2011 uprising that toppled long-ruling autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

The government’s inability to pay for enough imported fuel, debts to foreign oil companies, and old and poorly maintained equipment have all contributed to a months-long power crisis in which rolling blackouts have plunged entire neighborhoods into darkness for several hours a day.

The government had recently promised to restore electricity by the end of the year, partially blaming the outages on saboteurs. Over the past week there had been a noticeable reduction in the power cuts, coinciding with slightly cooler weather after a scorching August.

(With Associated Press)

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