July 21, 2024
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Major Power Outage Hits Balkans amid Heatwave

A significant power outage impacted Montenegro, Bosnia, Albania, and much of Croatia’s coast on Friday, causing widespread disruption.

The blackout affected businesses, shut down traffic lights, and left many without air conditioning during a severe heatwave.

Montenegro’s energy minister attributed the shutdown to a sudden spike in power consumption driven by high temperatures, coupled with the heat overloading systems.

The power distribution network in the Balkans is interconnected for transfers and trading, making the region vulnerable to cascading failures.

“This was just waiting to happen in this heat,” said Gentiana, a 24-year-old student in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica. Temperatures soared to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) across the southeastern European region.

The outage began around 1 p.m. (1100 GMT), causing electricity and wifi networks to go down, according to officials and social media reports.

Suppliers in the affected countries began restoring power by mid-afternoon, with most areas regaining electricity by the evening.

In Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, and the cities of Banja Luka and Mostar, traffic light failures led to gridlock, Reuters reported.

In Podgorica, many residents lost water supply as pumps stopped functioning, and air conditioners shut down, causing discomfort. Tourist shops faced issues as ice cream melted and refrigerators stopped working.

In Croatia’s coastal city of Split, the outage caused cars to stop and ambulance sirens to ring out across the city, reported state TV HRT.

Montenegro’s energy minister, Sasa Mujovic, explained on a TV broadcast that the power failure was due to a heavy load on the network, exacerbated by high temperatures.

“Experts are still trying to identify where the malfunction originated,” he added.

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