08/19/2005, 00.00
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Indonesia: blackout leaves 120 million people without light

The power shortage hit Java and Bali. Its causes are unknown and President Susilo has called for the intervention of the secret services. The five-hour blackout resulted in the loss of 20,000 megawatts.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/SCMP) – In Indonesia 120 million people were left without electricity yesterday because of suspected technical problems at power stations. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered police and secret services to investigate the energy outage which left nearly half the population in the dark and created serious inconveniences, especially for transport and hospital services.

The state-run company which supplies electric power declared itself ignorant of the cause of the blackout which cut off electricity in homes, business enterprises and trains for more than five hours, leading to serious road accidents in the capital.

At least three provinces in the island of Java were struck as were several parts of Bali. Dino Pati Djalal, government spokesman, voiced the President's preoccupation.

The power outage started at 10.30am (local time). It came at a time of economic growth which has been accompanied by a record rate of energy demand. In the past three months, the government launched a public campaign to adopt energy conservation measures. The maneuver has served to reduce the flux of demands on the national power grid which links Java to Bali, which is undergoing repairs of its power lines.

Yesterday's blackout led to a loss of energy of some 20,000 megawatts, one of the worst in history.

In the capital, the power shortage left damages in its wake, especially to transport and hospital services. Electric trains were at a standstill, leaving thousands of people – who have no access to private vehicles thanks to increased petrol costs – stranded. At the Sukarno-Hatta Airport of Jakarta five international and 25 domestic flights suffered lengthy delays.

The Metropolitan police mobilised 1,800 men to cope with the emergency. Large hospitals had to interrupt several surgical operations; smaller hospitals were forced not to accept patients.

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