French Riviera hit by power cut
Blackouts on Monday stop traffic and leave homes and shops in the dark throughout the busy resort area.
4 November 2008
NICE - A power outage struck the entire French Riviera and Monaco on Monday, stopping trains, trapping people in lifts and cutting electricity from 1.5 million homes for several hours.
The blackout was probably caused by the breakdown of two high-voltage electricity lines hit by a storm and extended from Marseille to the Italian border, the EDF state electricity company said.
The power cut came after a weekend of heavy winds and rain that forced two motorways further north to close and caused hundreds of homes to be evacuated.
Trams in Nice stopped in the middle of the street when the 1,500-megawatt outage began around 08h30 GMT, while cafes in the beachfront town stopped serving morning coffee.
Shops across the region, one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world, were not able to process credit card payments and many larger stores became completely dark.
Firefighters received calls from hundreds of people trapped in lifts, officials said. Traffic and tunnel lights were shut off, causing traffic jams.
Trains between the cities of Toulon and Nice also stopped when the power went out. Nice airport, France's third busiest, was still operating on its own emergency power source, officials said.
No incidents were reported in hospitals and clinics, which have back-up systems.
By early afternoon, electricity was restored to the two departments of Alpes-Maritimes and the Var, from the Mediterranean to the foothills of the Alps, said Catherine Greivelbinger, a regional director for the RTE electricity supply service.
Part of the Bouches-du-Rhone department was also affected, but its main city, the port of Marseille, escaped the blackout, which lasted close to four hours.
Regional authorities set up a crisis cell and Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi angrily called on the government to review the electricity grid to the Alpes-Maritimes region.
[AFP / Expatica]