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Power outage hits Balkan region amid major heat wave

By Ehren Wynder
The blackout led to serious infrastructure failures like water pump shutoffs in Montenegro's capital of Podgorica. Photo by Boris Pejovic/EPA
The blackout led to serious infrastructure failures like water pump shutoffs in Montenegro's capital of Podgorica. Photo by Boris Pejovic/EPA

June 22 (UPI) -- A major blackout left people in several Balkan countries without power amid a triple-digit heat wave.

The power failure allegedly began around 12:30 p.m. Friday in Montenegro, followed by Bosnia, Herzegovina, part of Croatia's coast and northern Albania, BalkanInsight reported.

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Montenegro's Minister of Energy Saša Mujović told the Dubrovnik Times a sudden surge in energy consumption due to the heatwave put too much stress on the power grid.

"The failure occurred due to the heavy load on the grid, caused by the sudden increase in electricity consumption and the high temperatures," Mujović said in an address.

The direct cause of the blackout is not yet known, but Albanian Energy Minister Belinda Balluku said authorities identified a fault on the interconnector between Albania and Greece, and similar faults have been found in Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia.

Balluku said a full investigation is underway, but preliminary findings indicated "large amounts of energy in the transmission system and very high temperatures created this technical problem."

Local authorities said they were working to restore power and already made significant progress in some areas. Energy in Albania was restored within a half hour and some major cities in Croatia got their power back after a couple of hours.

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The regional blackout is particularly daunting as many areas such as Bosnia's capital of Sarajevo saw temperatures rise as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Public transportation in some major cities ground to a halt, and the loss of traffic lights led to multiple collisions.

In Montenegro's capital of Podgorica, residents lost water due to pump failures, and air conditioner shutoffs led to perishable goods spoiling in stores.

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