India blackouts leave 700m with no power

NEW DELHI. August 1. KAZINFORM More than 700 million people in India have been left without power in the world's worst blackout of recent times, leading to fears that protests and even riots could follow if the country's electricity supply continues to fail to meet growing demand.

Twenty of India's 28 states were hit by power cuts, along with the capital, New Delhi, when three of the country's five electricity grids failed at lunchtime.

As engineers struggled for hours to fix the problem, hundreds of trains failed, leaving passengers stranded along thousands of miles of track from Kashmir in the north to Nagaland on the eastern border with Burma.

Traffic lights went out, causing jams in New Delhi, Kolkata and other cities. Surgical operations were cancelled across the country, with nurses at one hospital just outside Delhi having to operate life-saving equipment manually when back-up generators failed.

Elsewhere, electric crematoriums stopped operating, some with bodies left half burnt before wood was brought in to stoke the furnaces, Kazinform quotes the Guardian.

As Delhiites sweated in 89% humidity and drivers honked their horns even more impatiently than usual, in West Bengal the power cut left hundreds of miners trapped underground for hours when their lifts broke down. All the state's government workers were sent home after the chief minister announced it would take 10 to 12 hours for the power to return.

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