To almost everyone, a power outage is not a new experience, most of us have been trapped in elevators, used the light from a candle to read or stumbled around clumsily in darkness in our homes. Power outages almost always lead to catastrophic and unsettling economic and social consequences but with the many causes of blackouts, it is almost difficult to avoid them. More often than not, power outages occur due to human errors and technical faults but natural calamities such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, lightning strikes and flooding have taken their toll as well. Here are the top 5 biggest power outages across the globe.
- India, July 2012
This is the biggest power outage in history. It occurred on the 30th and 31st of July, 2012 affecting the northern part of India. On July 30th, over 300 million people living in nine major states including New Delhi were affected. A bigger blackout followed on July 31st affecting the northeastern, western, northern and eastern grids. In total, over 700 million people in 20 Indian states were affected by this blackout.
The blackout caused traffic lights to shut down causing an uncontainable traffic jam and train failures. Mining and construction work in the northern region were also stopped and surgical operations canceled. This blackout was cited to have been caused by weak inter-regional power transmission cables and overdrawing of electricity in some cities.
- India – January 2, 2001
The second largest power outage was again witnessed in India on January 2nd. It affected over 230 million Indians. It resulted in the closure of services and business throughout the northern region and over 80 trains were stranded. This power outage was caused by the collapse of a sub-station in Uttar Pradesh. The use of inadequate and poor transmission equipment also contributed to the blackout.
- Bangladesh, November 2014
On November 1, 2014, Bangladesh experienced the third largest power outage in the world. It affected over 150 million people and lasted for 10 hours. This power outage was caused by the failure of the main power transmission line from India to Bangladesh.
- Indonesia, August 2005
In August 2005, a massive blackout occurred across Indonesian islands of Bali and Java. It affected 120 million Indonesians, almost half of the population in the country. Jakarta, Indonesian capital city was completely blacked out as well as parts of East Java, West Java and Central Java.
As a result, transport services across the region including domestic and international flights were canceled and businesses closed.
The cause of the 24 hours power outage was linked back to the failure of the power grid connecting Java and Bali that had a capacity of 19,615MW due to the failure of a 500kVolts transmission line between Saguling and Cilegon in West Java.
- Brazil, March 1999
In March 1999, the southeastern part of Brazil experienced a power outage for close to six hours after the electricity sub-station in Sao Paulo was struck by lightning. It affected over 97 million people. The incident also resulted in the failure of Itaipu, a major source of hydroelectric power in the world.
This blackout halted business and services in San Paulo and Rio-de-Janeiro, two of the largest cities in Brazil for six hours.
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Image courtesy of Dave Hale. flickr.com creative commons