Pakistan’s largest cities left in the dark after power outage

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Jan. 23 (UPI) — A breakdown in Pakistan’s national grid system on Monday left its largest cities without electricity for most of the day, officials said.

Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi and its capital Islamabad were among the cities caught in the power outage along with Lashure and Peshawar. Pakistan’s Power Minister Khurrum Dastagir promised that power would return soon, adding that the problems appeared to have originated in southern Pakistan.

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“The restoration of grid stations has been started from Warsak and in the last one hour limited number of grids of Islamabad Supply Company and Peshawar Supply Company have been restored,” Pakistan’s Energy Ministry said in a statement Monday.

“According to initial reports, the system frequency of the National Grid went down at 7:34 this morning, causing a widespread breakdown in the power system. System maintenance work is progressing rapidly,” the ministry continued.

Dastagir told Geo News the power generation units had been temporarily shut down at night in the winter months in order to save on fuel costs.

He added that he hoped the power will be restored to the 14.9 million residents of Karachi in a matter of hours.

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“We provide K-Electric about 1,000-1,100 megawatts routinely, however, it will be restored within a few hours. It is not certain how long will it take to sort this issue,” he told Geo News. “However, my target is to restore electricity in the country in the next 12 hours.”

Dastagir said officials “faced some difficulties” in restoring power plants in Karachi, which operates on a fully electric power supply system.

He said the National Transmission and Despatch company had been granted authority to “use any power plant — no matter how expensive it might be to operate them” to restore electricity.

A functioning power plant in Uch was providing electricity to Sukkur, Naushahro Feroze, Larkana, Khairpur Nathan Shah and surrounding areas and was used to restore power in areas of Balochistan and South Punjab.

The Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority said that airports were able to continue to operate normally using their own standby power systems.

Officials at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar also told the BBC that it had been able to use generators to provide electricity to all of its departments, including intensive care units and emergency wards, to limit the impact of the outage.

However, the Pakistan Telecom Authority directed companies to refuel generators to keep service intact amid reports that some companies had burned through their supply of stored fuel to power backup generators.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered a committee to investigate the cause of the outage.

Pakistan suffered another major power outage in October, where Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta, Multan, and Faisalabad suffered energy loss. Dastagir said then that simultaneous faults in two power lines caused the outage.