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More than ten percent of worldâ€™s population has found itself without electricity, after Indiaâ€™s northern and eastern power grids failed. India has been plagued with blackouts for two consecutive days, leaving half the country without power.
India's northern power grid collapsed for several hours yesterday, followed shortly after by the eastern grid. Electricians restored the grids after a few hoursâ€™ work, but the regionâ€™s electric infrastructure was still overloaded, and the northern grid went out again at 1:05 pm, taking the eastern one with it.
"The north, northeastern and the eastern grids are down but we are working and we will have them restored shortly,''Naresh Kumar, a spokesman at the Powergrid Corporation of India Ltd, said to AFP.
These grids are run by the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp., and are responsible for supplying power to roughly half of Indiaâ€™s 1.2 billion citizens. This grid failure is the worst in a decade, with power outages reported as far to the east as the Assam state on Indiaâ€™s Chinese border, to the Himalayas in the north, to the western deserts of Rajasthan that border Pakistan.
The additional load on Indiaâ€™s electric network was reportedly caused by a low-intensity monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation, creating a power deficit. The monsoon also kept temperatures higher than usual, increasing the countryâ€™s use of air conditioners.
Power outages hit more than 19 states according to local officials, including Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, J&K, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.
In New Delhi, Indiaâ€™s capital, loss of power to traffic lights caused havoc on the streets. The shutdown of the cityâ€™s subway system, responsible for the daily transportation of some 1.8 million passengers, further snarled pedestrian and roadway traffic.
Some 100 megawatts of emergency power are currently being pumped into priority areas around New Delhi, such as hospitals and traffic lights. Power is also being diverted into the subway to help stranded passengers reach the nearest station. Subway service has been partially restored.
In Calcutta, lights were out at major hospitals around the city. At least 300 trains have also been affected by the outage in the countryâ€™s northern regions.
Hundreds of miners are reportedly trapped underneath Burdwan, north of Calcutta, following the outages. "We are trying to rescue the coal miners. All efforts are on to resume power supplies. You need power supplies to run the lifts in the underground mines," Mamata Banerjee told reporters in Calcutta.