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In PHOTOS: India TOPS world's biggest power cuts

Last updated on: August 1, 2012 10:19 IST

India TOPS world's biggest power cuts

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Touted as one of the world's biggest such collapse, Tuesday's incident of three power grids going offline forced over half of India's population in 21 states to stay without electricity for several hours.

The power failure came less than 24 hours after the Northern Grid collapsed and was revived on Monday. Over 370 million people were left without power.

In its last update at 8.30 pm, officials said that the power in northeastern region had been completely restored. While electricity has been fully restored in Delhi, 70 per cent normalcy has been achieved in the northern region so far. However, half of eastern India still remains in dark.

Let's take a look at some of the world's biggest power failures

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Image: A customer holds a candle as he gets his haircut at a barber's shop during a power-cut in Kolkata July 31, 2012
Photographs: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Tags: India , TOPS , Delhi

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November 2009, Paraguay-Brazil

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On November 10, 2009, transmission from the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam on the Paraguay-Brazil border was totally disrupted, possibly due to a storm damaging up to three high-voltage distribution lines. Itaipu itself was not damaged.

This caused massive power outages in Brazil and Paraguay, blacking out the entire country of Paraguay for 15 minutes, and plunging Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo into darkness for more than 2 hours.

50 million people were reportedly affected. The blackout hit at 10:13 pm local time. It affected the southeast of Brazil most severely, leaving Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo completely without electricity

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Image: Dark buildings are seen during a blackout in Sao Paulo November 11, 2009
Photographs: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters

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February 2008, China

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In January-February 2008, snows of consecutive days led to collapse of 12 iron towers on Gaohuai power transmission line, which in turn caused power cuts in the central Chinese city of Chenzhou and large number of passengers being stranded at railway stations because of suspended operation of Chenzhou electrified railway section of Beijing-Guangzhou railway.

Residents in Chenzhou, a city of about four million in Hunan, suffered about two weeks without electricity and tap water.

More than 5,000 electricians, including 2,000 summoned from other provinces, were struggling to repair damaged power lines and pylons. Power supply did not resume until the wee hours of February 6,the eve of Spring Festival.

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Image: An evening street scene of Chenzhou in China's southern Hunan province February 2, 2008
Photographs: John Ruwitch/Reuters

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November 2006, Germany

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A massive power outage that occurred in northwestern Germany in November 2006 created a domino-like effect in other countries like France, Italy, Austria, some parts of Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and Morocco.

The situation arose following the failure of two high-voltage lines, stretched over a river in north-western Germany, which had been shut down by German utility company E O N in order to let a ship pass through.

Officials stated that no less than 82 million German citizens were left without power for almost an hour, while electricity cuts affected around five million French inhabitants as well as the entire northern part of Italy.

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Image: Cruise ship 'Norwegian Pearl', which was blamed for the blackout
Photographs: Christian Charisius/Reuters

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August 2005, Indonesia

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In August 2005, more than 120 million Indonesians were affected by electricity cuts after transmission lines between Cilegon and Saguling, both in West Java, failed leading to a cascading failure that shut down two units of the Paiton plant in East Java and six units of the Suralaya plant in West Java.

Homes and businesses were left in the dark across at least three provinces, including the capital Jakarta, and transport services were disrupted, for over 5 hours.

Jakarta lost power completely, along with Banten; there were blackouts in parts of Central Java, along with parts of both West Java and East Java

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Image: Merchants work with the help of candles at a market in Jakarta's China town August 18, 2005
Photographs: Crack Palinggi en/TC/Reuters

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July 2004, Greece

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A midday blackout in July 2004, blamed by the Greek government on 'mismanagement' of the electrical grid, raised serious concerns about Athens' ability to handle increased power demands during the Olympics that was just a month away.

The outage began in Athens -- home to nearly 5 million people -- and quickly spread as far as Larissa, 155 miles to the north, and the port of Kalamata to the south. It also included some islands in the Aegean and Ionian seas.

It initially was believed the outage was the result of increased demand in air conditioner usage because of the heat wave, the chief cause for most blackouts in Greece.

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Image: Motorists head home during a snow storm in a busy shopping district
Photographs: Fatih Saribas/Reuters

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September 2003, Italy

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In September 2003, almost all of Italy's 57 million people were affected by a major blackout

Authorities attributed the outage to a breakdown of electricity lines, some in heavy storms, from France and Switzerland -- neighbours supplying Italy some 17 percent of its power.

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Image: A woman sleeps on her luggage as she waits at Rome's Fiumicino airport September 28, 2003
Photographs: Alessia Pierdomenico/Reuters

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August 2003, US-Canada

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In August 2003, a major outage knocked out power across the eastern United States and parts of Canada. 21 power plants shut down in just three minutes.

Fifty million people were affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as well as Toronto and Ottawa, Canada.

Although power companies were able to resume some service in as little as two hours, power remained off in other places for more than a day.

The outage stopped trains and elevators, and disrupted everything from cellular telephone service to operations at hospitals to traffic at airports.

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Image: A group of people watch headlines on a board in New York's Times Square August 15, 2003, after the biggest power outage in North American history blacked out New York and other major US and Canadian cities
Photographs: Jeff Christensen JC/HB/Reuters

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March 1999, Brazil

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In March 1999, a bolt of lightning plunged more than 60 million people into darkness in Brazil.

The lightning struck an electricity substation, causing a chain reaction that knocked out the power grid across south and southeastern Brazil for several hours.

The blackout paralysed the two main cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Hundreds of people were stuck on the roads after traffic lights went off; others were trapped in the underground system.

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March 1989, US-Canada

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On the evening of March 12, 1989 a vast cloud of solar plasma (a gas of electrically charged particles) struck Earth's magnetic field. The magnetic disturbance was incredibly intense.

In less than 2 minutes, the entire power grid of Quebec, Canada lost power.

During the 12-hour blackout that followed, millions of people suddenly found themselves in dark office buildings and underground pedestrian tunnels, and in stalled elevators. Most people woke up to cold homes for breakfast. The blackout also closed schools and businesses, kept the Montreal Metro shut during the morning rush hour, and closed Dorval Airport.

United States too was hit. Across the US from coast to coast, over 200 power grid problems erupted within minutes of the start of the March 13 storm. Fortunately none of these caused a blackout.

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Image: Artist impression of the damage caused by the storm
Photographs: Courtesy NASA

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November 1965, United States

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On November 9, 1965, 30 million Americans were without electricity for as long as 13 hours.

The event started at the Ontario-New York border, near Niagara Falls. A single transmission line from the Niagara generating station tripped. Within 2.5 seconds, five other transmission lines became overloaded and tripped, isolating 1,800 MW of generation at Niagara Station.

After their isolation, the generators became unstable and tripped off-line. The northeast power system became unstable and separated into isolated power systems (islands) within 4 seconds. Outages and islanding occurred throughout New York, Ontario, most of New England, and parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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