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Millions of people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan were left without power on Tuesday by a massive power outage in Central Asia that has paralyzed subways and airports and left skiers stranded on cable cars.

The cause of the fault that has caused the power cut in these three has not yet been found. former soviet republics where this type of phenomenon is frequent despite the investments made in the energy network since its independence three decades ago.

Much of Almaty, the economic capital of Kazakhstan, was without power, as was Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent.

in Kyrgyzstan, after several hours of blackout, the authorities announced that electricity was restored throughout the country.

The Uzbekistan Ministry of Energy said in a statement released on Telegram that the blackout was due to an accident in the Kazakhstan network.

“As a result of a major accident in the energy networks of the Republic of Kazakhstan, there was a blackout in the cities of Almaty, Shymkent, Taras, (in the region of) Turkestan and adjacent areas,” the statement said.

“The Uzbek power grid, which is connected to the Unified Power Grid, was damaged by an accident that triggered sudden changes in voltage and frequency on 530 lines from Kazakhstan,” it added.

Kegoc, the Kazakh electricity company, reported an “electrical overload”, but did not offer more details about the fault.

Worst breakdown in “a decade”

According to the Russian press agency Ria, the Almaty airport continued to operate normally, but the Tashkent airport stopped flights taking off due to the blackout. Other regional airfields were also affected.

In Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, “the airport works (…) but not at full capacity,” its managers said in a statement quoted by local media.

According to these reports, the airport resorted to an emergency power source and allows aircraft to land, but has suspended check-in for some outbound flights.

Still in the Kyrgyz capital, the media indicate that the failure interrupted the operation of the pumping stations, which is affecting the distribution of water.

And in Tashkent, the subway was stopped and the flow of tap water was scarce, an AFP journalist found.

In addition, Russian agencies indicated that in a ski resort near this city some 80 people were blocked in the cable cars and had to be rescued.

Central Asia’s power grid has been hit by a severe summer drought that has reduced hydroelectric generation in Kyrgyzstan, a major regional producer.

On the other hand, the boom in cryptocurrency mining in this region, particularly in Kazakhstan after the ban on this activity in China, has increased demand and causes tensions in supply.

According to Sergei Kondratiev, an expert at the Russian center of the Institute for Energy and Finance, Tuesday’s failure is the most important in the region “for at least a decade.”

“The main reason for these accidents is the lack of coordination of delivery services,” he told AFP.

Central Asian countries have a unified system created in Soviet times to optimize costs, he explained. “But for 20 years, all these countries make decisions based on their interests.”

But “the interaction of the distribution services of the three countries is necessary, since a problem not resolved in a few minutes can cause a breakdown,” according to this expert.


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