Sunday, August 10, 2008

:: Blackout

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Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Sarawak powerless for about 3 hours last night
By Puvaneswary Devindran, Raynore Mering, Jacob Ahchoi & Yu Ji

ALMOST the whole of Sarawak was powerless for about three hours yesterday evening in what could be one of the state’s worst electricity supply failures in recent years. The power outage could best be described as a rolling blackout as it happened in waves; starting from about 6.15pm to 6.40pm in Kuching and Sibu divisions. It reached Miri about 7.30pm. Some parts of Bintulu were struck about 9pm.

The power returned intermittently in several parts of Kuching and Sibu starting about 7.40pm but within half an hour, it went out again and people found themselves wishing that they had not put out their candles. Electricity supply went back to normal in Miri and Sibu about 8.35pm. Kuching city centre, however, remained in darkness throughout the outage until about 9.30pm.

Deputy Chief Minister Patinggi DatukTan Sri Dr George Chan, when contacted by Bernama, said the massive outage was unprecented. He said the problem had affected the main grid from Batang Ai to major towns in Sarawak.
“We still don’t know what exactly is causing this massive blackout and Sesco is still trying very hard to reconnect the supply as soon as possible,” he said.
Dr Chan, who is Industrial Development Minister, also appealed to the public to remain calm.

A senior official of Syarikat Sesco Bhd, when contacted about 9.20pm, said there was a problem with state supply grid through Selangau, which is between Sibu and Mukah. He pointed out that the Kidurong power station, which was connected to the grid through Selangau, was a major supplier of electricity to the state.
“Normally, this kind of massive blackout is when the state grid got disrupted,” he said.
Asked what could have caused the massive blackout, he said: “It depends on where the fault is. But it’s all linked. The fault could be with the state grid. Maybe this is quite major.”

Some sources claimed that there was a problem with an overhead cable in Selangau but it could not be confirmed last night.

Sarawak General Hospital and the Kuching International Airport said their services were unaffected by the outage as they had their emergency supply. SGH Cardiology Department head, Dr Sim Kui Hean, when contacted at 8.15pm, said that electricity was limited to essential supplies. However, he said only places like kitchen and the pharmacy had only one or two lights on.
“Nonetheless, continuous electricity is being supplied and hospital operations has not been affected,” he said.

A spokesperson at the Department of Civil Aviation told thesundaypost about 8pm that it was business as usual at the Kuching International Airport as they had their own generators in place.
The spokesperson said no flights were delayed but when asked how long the generator could last, the spokesperson refused to comment.