Crane error blacks out one third of Vietnam

HANOI - Over a third of Vietnam as well as the capital of neighbouring Cambodia suffered a blackout this week after a crane operator knocked a tree onto a key power line, electricity officials said Thursday.

Twenty-two of Vietnam's southern provinces -- out of a nationwide total of 63 -- lost power for a few hours on Wednesday afternoon including the southern commercial centre of Ho Chi Minh City, according to the state electricity provider.

"The whole southern region suffered from a blackout," Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) said in a statement posted online.

The crane operator's error took out one of the country's main north-south power lines, causing a shortfall of some 9,400 megawatts in the south, EVN said.

The line was down for two hours and the system has since been restored, it added.

The Cambodian capital Phnom Penh was hit hardest with power only restored in the late evening after several hours of darkness, an official from Cambodia's state electricity provider said, adding the kingdom buys much of its power from Vietnam.

Millions of people were affected in Vietnam, where offices and factories across the south were forced to close and traffic lights failed, causing chaos in larger cities, according to reports in state media and online.

Vietnam, which derives much of its electricity from hydropower dams, is currently in the dry season when power shortages become a major problem.

Rolling blackouts are a common feature of daily life in parts of the country of some 89 million people.

Become a fan on Facebook