Sri Lanka suffers worst blackout in 20 years

sri lanka
POWER OUTAGE. A young man continues his studies at candle light during a major blackout in Colombo, Sri Lanka, March 13, 2016. Photo by M.A. Pushpa Kumara/EPA
Ceylon Electricity Board’s chief Anura Wijepala offers to resign over this latest power outage

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (Mar. 14, 2016) — Sri Lanka suffered its worst nationwide power cut in 20 years Sunday, March 13, causing water shortages and transport and trade disruptions across the country, officials said.

The national grid switched off early afternoon and attempts to reconnect failed as the system was unable to cope with night-time demand, a spokesman for the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) utility said.

However, after about 7 hours several areas of the capital received electricity while the authorities announced a step-by-step restoration of power throughout the island.

It was the second major power failure in less than a month, following a 3-hour disruption late February.

The latest blackout was the longest since May 1996 when the entire country was without electricity for 4 days.

CEB chief Anura Wijepala accepted responsibility for the latest breakdown and offered to resign, the state-run Daily News said.

Traffic signals failed and public transport was disrupted, while many shops were unable to process credit card payments and fuel pumps were out of action.

Internet and mobile phone services were also disrupted in many places where there were no stand-by generators. However, hospitals in the capital functioned with the help of generators.

Power blackouts occur sporadically in Sri Lanka but the latest nationwide outage came even as an investigation was underway into last month’s embarrassing disruption while New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was visiting the island.

  by Agence France-Presse |