People are silhouetted on vehicles headlights on a dark street during widespread power outages in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Sunday,…
Vehicles headlights light a dark street during widespread power outages in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Jan. 10, 2021.

ISLAMABAD - A massive electricity blackout overnight plunged much of Pakistan into darkness, though electricity was partially restored Sunday in parts of the country.

The power breakdown in the country of around 220 million left all major cities, including the capital, Islamabad, and commercial hub, Karachi, without electricity for hours.

Power Minister Omar Ayub Khan confirmed at a hurriedly convened early morning news conference that the shutdown was caused by a “technical fault” in the Guddu power plant in southern Pakistan shortly before midnight on Saturday.

Khan explained the fault tripped the nationwide transmission system “within a second” and forced “safety systems” at power plants across the country to automatically shut down, disrupting the electricity supply.

He said, however, his ministry had not yet determined exactly what caused the crisis. The minister noted that teams were working to completely restore nationwide power supply and it could take several more hours before the entire system is stabilized.

“Our teams are still working in the Guddu area to investigate the reasons that caused the fault, but heavy fog is making their job difficult,” he insisted. However, they have apparently not detected any fault in the Guddu power plant, Khan added.

Netblocks, which monitors internet outages reported that internet connectivity in Pakistan "collapsed" as a result of the outage, saying connectivity was at "62% of ordinary levels.”

Pakistan has experienced several nationwide power breakdowns in the past, blamed on the country’s fragile distribution system.

In 2015 an alleged militant attack on a key power supply line plunged around 80% of the country into darkness for more than nine hours.

China’s billions of dollars of investment in the power sector in recent years has enabled Pakistan to overcome its electricity shortages. The investment is also helping the country improve its distribution systems.

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