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Rolling Blackouts Expanded In Ukraine

FILE - A power-generating unit at the nuclear power plant in the city of Enerhodar, in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine officials say rolling two-hour blackouts that began in some towns Monday are being expanded.

Ukraine Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchishin said Wednesday a technical fault forced operations at the Zaporizka nuclear plant to shut down Friday.

Concerns were raised earlier when Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk spoke of a nuclear power plant accident, but Demchishin said none of the plant's reactors were damaged and there is no reason to be concerned about safety.

Yatsenyuk’s reference to an accident brought back memories of the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl power plant in northern Ukraine, which released radiation across Europe and the Soviet Union.

The Zaporizka facility in southeastern Ukraine is Europe's largest nuclear power plant. The facility generates more than one-fifth of the power produced in Ukraine.

The shutdown comes at a time when power making supplies such as coal are very low in Ukraine.

Demchishin said Ukraine will likely be compelled to import power from Russia, despite the dismal state of diplomatic relations.