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Pakistan hit by nationwide blackout

Islamabad:  Pakistan was hit by a nationwide blackout for more than two hours after the breakdown of a major plant caused power stations to stop working across the country, officials said on Monday.

While power cuts are common in Pakistan due to chronic underinvestment in infrastructure, outages across the whole country are rare.

Late Sunday's blackout occurred when the HUBCO plant in southwestern Baluchistan province, which generates 1,200 megawatts a day of electricity, developed a technical fault, said official Rai Sikandar.

That breakdown prompted a "cascading effect" which caused plants nationwide to shut down, said the water and power ministry official.

"It was a technical fault in one of our power plants and not in the national grid," he insisted, adding that electricity was gradually being restored across Pakistan after it remained off for more than two hours.

Another ministry official said power should be back on across the country within two hours.

He said that all 24 power stations in the capital Islamabad were working again and electricity was being restored in parts of all the country's four provinces.

"1,200 megawatts of electricity is back in the national grid with the restoration of different power stations," said the official.

He added an inquiry would look into the causes of the technical fault at HUBCO. "It would be pre-mature at this stage to speculate about the nature of the fault that caused the plant to fail."

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