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Gaza's Lone Power Plant Shuts Down


Palestinian authorities in Gaza have shut down the territory's only power plant after running out of fuel in the middle of a heatwave.

Saturday's shutdown affects about a half million people living in Gaza City and its surroundings.

Temperatures there have been soaring to more than 30 degrees Celsius in recent days, sparking an increase in demand for air conditioning and refrigeration. But power plant officials say they do not have enough fuel to keep electricity flowing.

Fuel for the plant comes from the rival Palestinian government in the West Bank, which accused officials in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip of failing to make scheduled payments.

The ongoing dispute had already limited the amount of electricity being produced at the Gaza power plant, providing residents with only six to 10 hours of power per day.

Engineers in Gaza warn the blackout could last days without emergency fuel shipments.

The Reuters news agency said Saturday that the power outage was affecting hospitals and water wells. It also said the blackout cut power to the territory's sewage treatment plant, which was allowing waste to spill into the Mediterranean. As a result, Gazans hoping to get relief from the heat were banned from swimming in the sea.

The Gaza power plant supplies the territory with about one-third of its electricity. The rest comes from Israel and Egypt.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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