Cities and towns across Pakistan, including capital Islamabad, were plunged into darkness for several hours on Saturday night following a massive nationwide electricity blackout. While the power was partially restored the next day, an investigation was launched to determine the cause of the outage, officials said. The electricity distribution system in the nation of more than 210 million people is a complex and delicate web, and a problem in one section of the grid can lead to cascading breakdowns countrywide.
The latest blackout, which lasted roughly 18 hours in most areas, was caused by “an engineering fault” in southern Pakistan at 11:41 pm local time on Saturday (1841 GMT), which tripped the system and caused power plants to shut down, power minister Omar Ayub Khan told a press conference in Islamabad. Experts were however trying to determine the precise details of what happened as well as “the exact location of the fault,” the power minister said, adding that it would take time as the area was still covered in dense fog. A spokesman from the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) reported that “all 500KV and 200KV grid stations and transmission lines have started supplying electricity” and that “the power supply has been restored across Pakistan.” Jokes and memes flooded Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, mostly ridiculing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government and its performance after the breakdown. The outage marked Pakistan’s second major power breakdown in less than three years. In May 2018, power was partially disrupted for more than nine hours.