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Taiwan's economic minister resigns amid nationwide blackout

By Allen Cone
Taiwan's economic minister resigns amid nationwide blackout
The Taipei 101 skyscraper stands dark Tuesday during a power outage in Taipei, Taiwan. The outage was triggered by a human error at the country's largest natural gas power plant. Photo by David Chang/EPA

Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Human error at a power station in Taiwan left more than 668,000 homes and offices nationwide without electricity Tuesday -- and led to the resignation of the government's economic minister.

The outage began at 4:50 p.m. Tuesday when six units at the Datan Power Station in Taoyuan, about 15 miles southwest of Taipei, went off -- causing a drop of four million kilowatts of electricity, the state-run power company said said.

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Power was rationed for the next couple hours to about 6.68 million households. Taiwan had a population of 23.5 million in 2016, according to census figures.

The power supply was restored around midnight, according to TaiPower.

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Economic Affairs Minister Lee Chih-kung took responsibility for the outage and submitted his resignation to Premier Lin Chuan, who accepted it, a cabinet spokesman said.

"Initial investigations show that the power outage was caused by operational errors during the supply of natural gas to the power plant by the oil company CPC Corporation, Taiwan," a TaiPower representative said.

The plant is the island's largest natural gas power plant.

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Some government facilities experienced outages but Taipei's Presidential Office was not affected.

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Also not disrupted were airports, high-speed rail lines and motorways, though signals on smaller roads affected the Greater Taipei Area -- which includes the capital, Keelung and New Taipei City.

A resident told the Taipei-based United Daily News that she was in a supermarket when the power went out -- and was briefly trapped inside. She was then stuck in a traffic jam caused by the traffic light failures.

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Officials said power consumption has surged in the last few days, as temperatures reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit across Taiwan.

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