Power cuts plunge half Bangladesh into darkness

DHAKA, May 19, 2006 (AFP) – Almost half of Bangladesh was plunged into darkness as the national electricity grid tripped, shutting down most of the country’s power generation units, reports said Friday.

The capital Dhaka and districts across the north were affected by the more than two-hour shutdown late Thursday as summer temperatures soared above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

“Following sudden interruption in power supply from the national grid, different units went out of order,” the private UNB agency quoted a power-supply office official as saying.

Rapid development has resulted in massive power shortages in Bangladesh, which faces an average daily shortfall of 700-800 megawatts.

Only 25 percent of the population has access to electricity and even in the capital power cuts can last five to six hours each day.

The shortages have led to violent protests, with 17 people killed in three recent incidents.