65,000 people without electricity in Germany

28th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

28 November 2005, MUENSTER, GERMANY - The German government is likely to summon electricity-company executives and civil-defence experts for a post-mortem on what is believed to have been Germany's worst power outage for 60 years.

28 November 2005

MUENSTER, GERMANY - The German government is likely to summon electricity-company executives and civil-defence experts for a post-mortem on what is believed to have been Germany's worst power outage for 60 years.

In areas close to the Dutch border, 50 pylons for high-voltage lines buckled and collapsed during a Friday snowstorm, cutting off power to the homes of 65,000 people for three nights running.

In Berlin, government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said Chancellor Angela Merkel had demanded regular briefings right through the weekend, including while she was at a summit in Barcelona, Spain.

He said departmental heads would meet to swap notes, with the power company and THW civil-defence relief agency participating.

In the affected rural region, near the German city of Muenster, power and heat was restored Monday to 15,000 people. German power giant RWE said 400 electricians hoped to restore power to the remaining 50,000 still blacked out by the end of Monday. Area residents lit candles, dressed warmly and cooked on camping-gas stoves amid freezing temperatures.

In Ochtrup, a town of 20,000, residents voiced frustration at the length of the outage. Ochtrup's sole supply link was wrecked over a length of three kilometres by the weight of ice on the lines Friday.

Wider areas have lost electricity in Germany in recent years, but a four-day regional failure was unprecedented.

RWE said it would not be paying any compensation, since the blackout was an "act of God" event.

Emergency services which brought portable generators to assist those still without power grumbled Monday at poor coordination. A fire brigade that drove 300 kilometres to the scene said it was left uselessly waiting four hours on end.

Other groups said resourceful local people had made far less use of available emergency shelters or soup kitchens than expected.

The German Electricity Distribution Association denied that lines were below par. It said the weather had been extreme, and Germany had the lowest blackout rate in all Europe. It said 40 billion euros would be invested in the German power grid in the next 15 years.

This represents a sharp gain from the 2 billion euros (2.4 billion dollars) currently invested every year in the German network.

DPA

Subject: German news

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