Taiwan economics minister resigns over blackout

Mass outage caused by human error

Economics Minister Lee Chih-kung resigned over Tuesday's blackout. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Cabinet accepted the resignation of Economics Minister Lee Chih-kung (李世光) Tuesday evening after a massive power outage which knocked out traffic lights, trapped people in elevators and darkened shopping malls and offices across the nation.

The incident was reportedly caused by human error, with the supply of gas to the Datan Power Station in Taoyuan City being interrupted for two minutes just before 5 p.m.

After appearing at a news conference apologizing to the public, Lee handed in his resignation to Premier Lin Chuan (林全) and the latter accepted it, a Cabinet spokesman announced.

The opposition called for a special report by the premier to a summer session of the Legislative Yuan.

The tripping of the power station came as the island is suffering under high temperatures, with the mercury reaching more than 36 degrees Celsius for ten days in a row in Taipei.

Before resigning, Lee announced that the power outage would be managed, with rolling blackouts making sure that residents of certain areas would only have to face one hour without power before the situation returned to normal.

The electricity emergency came at an embarrassing time, just before Taiwan is to host one of the largest international sports events in its history, the World Universiade in Taipei, which opens Saturday.

On energy, the government’s ultimate plan is to make Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025 by closing its three operating nuclear plants and replacing them with cleaner energy sources.