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Zambia Hit by Nationwide Power Blackout

Monday, January 21, 2008

LUSAKA, Zambia —  Zambia was plunged into darkness Monday night in what appeared to be the second nationwide power outage in three days.

The electricity network went down at about 7:30 p.m. and was restored about four hours later. There was no immediate explanation for the blackout.

On Saturday, Zambia was without electricity for about eight hours, leaving more than 300 miners temporarily trapped underground in the country's Copperbelt province. It was not immediately known if any miners had been trapped underground Monday night.

The country's power authority said there had been a "high voltage" occurrence on the network, but was still investigating. It also was unclear if the second blackout was caused by the same problem or if the outages were connected to regional problems with electricity supply.

Neighboring Zimbabwe, where power and water outages occur daily, was also hit by a nationwide power outage over the weekend, and worsening power cuts in South Africa have caused economic losses and chaos across the country.

In Zambia, which relies on hydroelectricity, however, national blackouts are rare, though they sometimes occur in poorer areas of the capital.

Large parts of South Africa are suffering blackouts often lasting several hours. Utility company Eskom says demand is simply too high for it to keep up with.

Eskom said Sunday it had stopped supplying electricity to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia because of the dire shortage at home. Normally about 95 percent is used locally and the rest sold abroad.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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