Electricity supply across Bangladesh has been restored after the South Asian country plunged into a blackout following the failure of its national power grid, officials said.
The blackout, which affected much of the country, started at 2pm (08:00 GMT) on Tuesday and lasted for nearly seven hours before power was completely restored at 9pm (15:00 GMT).
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It was not immediately clear what caused the glitch.
Grid failures generally happen when there is a high mismatch between demand and supply, potentially due to unexpected or sudden changes in power use patterns.
Many large shopping malls in the capital, Dhaka, closed early on Tuesday evening. Elsewhere, people gathered at fuel stations to collect diesel to run standby generators and market vendors operated amid candlelight.
Nasrul Hamid, junior minister for power, energy and mineral resources, said in a statement that he regretted the “temporary inconvenience” caused by the power failure.
Officials at the state-run Bangladesh Power Development Board earlier said power transmission had failed in the eastern part of the country.
All power plants tripped and electricity was cut in Dhaka and other big cities, said Shameem Hasan, a power department spokesman.
Bangladesh’s recent impressive economic growth has been threatened by power shortages since the government suspended operations of all diesel-run power plants to reduce costs for imports as prices have soared.
The country has rationed some gas supplies amid high global prices driven up by Russia’s war in Ukraine. The government vowed frugal spending after reporting a record fiscal deficit last year.
Over a third of the country’s 77 gas-powered units were short of fuel, government data showed on Tuesday.
The diesel-run power plants produced about 6 percent of Bangladesh’s power generation, so their shutdowns cut output by up to 1500 megawatts.
Earlier this month, Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said that the situation is so serious that garment factories are without power now for about four to 10 hours a day.
“To cope with the (power) crisis, we have been using generators. Today’s outage was unpredictable. We had to shut our offices, because generators can not run for long periods,” Shahidullah Azim, vice president of the association representing more than 4,500 garment factories, told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
“We can’t run factories without power,” Azim added.
Zunaid Ahmed Palak, a junior minister in Bangladesh, said on Facebook it was “risky to restore (power) with a heavy load”.
Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment exporter after China, and it earns more than 80 percent of its total foreign currency from exports of garment products each year.
Last month, the Asian Development Bank said in a report that Bangladesh’s economic growth would slow to 6.6 percent from its previous forecast of 7.1 percent in the current fiscal year.
Weaker consumer spending due to sluggish export demand, domestic manufacturing constraints and other factors are behind the slowdown, it said.