Minister resigns over massive blackout

Taiwan’s Economic Affairs Minister Lee Chih-kung resigned after a malfunction at the island’s largest natural gas plant on Tuesday caused a massive blackout that affected millions of households amid a heatwave.

Lee will submit his formal resignation on Wednesday, said a cabinet spokesperson after a press conference detailing the malfunction at the Tatan Power Plant in Taoyuan.

The Central News Agency reported that six generators in the plant failed shortly before 5pm, affecting the supply of 4 million kilowatts of electricity.

Human error was blamed for the incident, which caused a two-minute cutoff in the supply of natural gas to power station, Taiwan News said.

It added that the blackout came amid a heatwave that saw maximum temperatures in Taipei hit 36 degrees Celsius for at least ten days running, leading to peaks in power consumption.

Residents in areas like greater Taipei, Taichung and Tainan were affected, with many taking to social media to complain about having to eat and work in the dark.

Social media users also reported slow-moving traffic and stalled elevators, including those in the capital city’s landmark skyscraper Taipei 101.

A Twitter user by the name of Foreigners in Taiwan tweeted at about 8pm: “Our hearts go out to those stuck in elevators, in need of hospital electronic care, those with no air-conditioning, those who had to climb 20 floors home, those who had to climb down the 101 to get home…”

Video footage uploaded to YouTube showed people crossing the roads in nearly pitch-black darkness near Kaohsiung’s Aozihdi park, lit only by the headlights of nearby cars.

A total of 6.68 million households were reportedly affected by the power outage.

Source: ChannelNewsAsia

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