Sri Lanka plunged into darkness as power outage hits entire nation

Sri Lanka plunged into darkness as power outage hits entire nation

Sri Lanka Colombo power outage blackout
A man holds a candle as he gets a hair cut in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Aug 17, 2020, during a lengthy electricity outage affecting the entire country. (Photo: AFP/Ishara S Kodikara)

COLOMBO: The entire nation of Sri Lanka was left without power on Monday (Aug 17) in an hours-long outage following an "unspecified failure" at a major power plant, the state-run electricity board said.

Minister of Power Dullas Alahapperuma said a "technical issue" at the Kerawalapitiya power station just outside the capital Colombo was the cause of the blackout, which hit the entire nation of 21 million people at around midday.

Power was restored in Colombo after seven hours, but some other parts of the island nation were yet to be reconnected.

It was the worst disruption since March 2016, when the whole country was without electricity for more than eight hours following a massive system breakdown.

The public utilities regulator said there would be a probe into the failure and gave the state-run electricity monopoly, the Ceylon Electricity Board, three days to explain the massive disruption.

The power cut caused chaos on already congested roads in Colombo, with traffic lights not operating and police struggling to man key intersections.

Water supply was also affected as there was no electricity to operate the pumps.

Sri Lanka Colombo power outage
Petrol station workers sit in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Aug 17, 2020, during a lengthy electricity outage affecting the entire country. (Photo:  AFP/Ishara S Kodikara)

Hospitals and other critical infrastructure in the country had power generators. The main airport has remained mostly shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Sri Lanka generates just over half of its electricity through thermal power. The remainder comes from hydro and wind power.

Kerawalapitiya is an oil-fired thermal power station with a 300 megawatt capacity, about 12 per cent of the country's electricity demand.

Localised power failures are not uncommon but nationwide outages are rare.

Source: AFP/dv

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