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Power in Some Pakistan Cities Restored After Internet 'Collapse', Massive Blackout Across Nation

People are silhouetted on vehicles headlights on a dark street during widespread power outages in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. Pakistan's national power grid experienced a major breakdown late night on Saturday, leaving millions of people in darkness, local media reported. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

People are silhouetted on vehicles headlights on a dark street during widespread power outages in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. Pakistan's national power grid experienced a major breakdown late night on Saturday, leaving millions of people in darkness, local media reported. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

The electricity distribution system in the nation of more than 210 million people is a complex -- and delicate -- web, and a problem in one section of the grid can lead to cascading breakdowns countrywide.

Power supply was restored fully or partially on Sunday in many cities in Pakistan, including the national capital Islamabad, hours after several towns in the country plunged into darkness following a huge blackout due to a fault in the power distribution system. The power outage was reported shortly before midnight almost simultaneously in many cities. Residents of Karachi, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Islamabad, Multan and others faced the blackout.

Pakistan Energy Minister Omar Ayub Khan said that technical teams were working to fully restore the power supply. He said that electricity supply was restored fully or partially in many cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Multan, Karachi and Faisalabad but it would take some time before the restoration of normal supply.

Khan, along with Information Minister Shibli Faraz, told reporters that the power supply snapped at 11:41 pm on Saturday after a technical fault at Guddu power plant in Sindh province. It had what we call a cascading effect' and shut down the power system, choking about 10,320 megawatt of electricity, he said, adding that it was the precise amount of energy needed for the entire country during the winter nights.

He said it was still unknown what exactly triggered the shutdown that caused the drop in the system frequency from about 50 to zero. Our teams are working to pinpoint the cause of sudden drop in frequency, he said, adding that three major supply lines originated from Guddu power plant and it was not known which was the first to experience the drop in frequency.

Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that the transmission system was old and blamed the previous governments for neglecting it.

The electricity distribution system in the nation of more than 210 million people is a complex -- and delicate -- web, and a problem in one section of the grid can lead to cascading breakdowns countrywide.

Netblocks, which monitors internet outages said internet connectivity in the country "collapsed" as a result of the outage.

Connectivity was at "62 percent of ordinary levels," it said in a tweet.

In 2015 an apparent rebel attack on a key power line plunged around 80 percent of Pakistan into darkness.

That blackout, one of the worst in Pakistan's history, caused electricity to be cut in major cities nationwide, including the capital Islamabad, and even affected one of the country's international airports.


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