Saturday, November 04, 2006
Power cuts strike western EuropePower cuts have struck several countries in western Europe, leaving millions of people without electricity.
Power companies said the outage started in Germany with a surge in demand prompted by cold weather, and then spread to other parts of Europe.
Some five million people in France lost power, mainly in the east of the country and including parts of Paris.
"We weren't very far from a European blackout," a senior director with French power company RTE said.
Pierre Bornard told the French news agency AFP that two German high-voltage transmission lines failed, causing problems across western Europe.
This triggered a "house of cards" style system breakdown, he said.
Automatic security systems cut supplies to some customers to avoid a complete blackout.
Italy, Belgium and Spain were also affected by the power cuts.
Most electricity supplies were restored within two hours of the outage, and so far no injuries or accidents have been reported.
Fire brigades in France said they had to answer several calls from people stuck in lifts.
High speed rail links were also disrupted.