Massive power outage hits Turkish cities and provinces

World Today

A policeman stops the traffic to allow people to cross the road due to a power outage in Ankara, on March 31, 2015. A massive power cut caused chaos across Turkey, shutting down the metro networks in Istanbul and the capital Ankara, with the government saying an outside attack on the system was not ruled out. AFP PHOTO/STR

Dozens of Turkish cities and provinces were hit by a massive power outage on Tuesday that brought transportation to a standstill and disrupted services and businesses that had no backup power.

The Turkish Electricity Transmission Company, TEIAS, cited a problem at Turkey’s electricity power transmission network for the worst blackout in the country for several years.

Metro and tram services came to a halt in Istanbul, Ankara and three other major cities. Turkish broadcaster DHA showed images of commuters waiting outside closed metro stations. Police officers were deployed to manage traffic at major junctions where traffic signals were disrupted and firefighters were called to rescue people stuck in lifts.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said all possible causes of the outage were being investigated and did not rule out sabotage, but said that trouble with transmission lines was the most likely reason for the problem.

Broadcaster NTV said power cuts were reported in more than 40 of Turkey’s 81 provinces. The power transmission company TEIAS could not immediately be reached.

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said power was cut to many regions at 10:36 am (0736 GMT), apparently due to a problem with transmission lines. He said a government crisis centre had been set up.

Turkey’s electricity consumption has risen strongly in recent years, thanks to robust economic growth and a rising population. It has been forced to ramp up energy investments and imports of natural gas, its biggest source for power generation.

Such widespread power outages are rare. Energy officials quoted by the newspaper Hurriyet said it was Turkey’s biggest blackout in 15 years.

Yildiz said power was being restored in some provinces.

Report by The Associated Press and Reuters.