Rat in the generator blacks out Cambodian capital

PHNOM PENH, June 13, 2006 (AFP) – A rat which bumbled into one of Cambodia’s largest power plants was blamed for blacking out the entire capital Phnom Penh and much of surrounding Kandal province over the weekend, a power official said Tuesday. Millions were cast into darkness Sunday night and sat through hours of sweltering heat after the rodent shut down a private 40-megawatt plant that provides power to the area.

“The electricity cut was caused by a rat running into one of the power plant’s generators, causing the machine to automatically shut off,” Chea Sun Hel, director of Electricite du Cambodge’s distribution department, told AFP.

Phnom Penh has been plagued for months by blackouts as the government struggles to provide enough electricity to light the growing city. Government officials last week promised an end to the blackouts with the opening of a new plant.