‘Countrywide blackout’ plunges Pakistan into darkness

Pakistan’s national power grid breaks down, leaving tens of millions of people in darkness.

People are silhouetted on vehicle headlights on a dark street during widespread power outages in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on Sunday, January 10, 2021 [Anjum Naveed/ AP]

A breakdown in Pakistan’s national power grid plunged the country into darkness on Saturday night, according to officials, leaving tens of millions of people without electricity in all main cities including the capital, Islamabad.

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.

“A countrywide blackout has been caused by a sudden plunge in the frequency in the power transmission system,” Energy Minister Omar Ayub Khan said on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy said the incident was caused by a fault in southern Pakistan at 11:41pm local time on Saturday (18:41 GMT).

The blackout is one of the worst that the country has experienced and cities affected include the economic hub, Karachi, and the country’s second-largest city, Lahore.

Khan said power was being restored to cities in phases, starting with Islamabad.

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 caused electricity to be cut in major cities nationwide, including Islamabad and even affected one of the country’s international airports.

Source: News Agencies