Berlin power outage leaves 30,000 in the dark

Tens of thousands of Berlin residents are scheduled to get their power back on Wednesday after an accident at a construction site plunged households and businesses into darkness.

City officials said a worker on the Salvador Allende bridge renovation project accidentally severed a critical power connection at about 2 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Tuesday, cutting off energy to the city's eastern district.

The outage has affected more than 30,000 households and 2,000 businesses.

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Schools and day care centers in the affected area were expected to stay closed on Wednesday while workers worked to fix the situation.

"This is a demanding job that is simply going to take a little time. That's why this blackout is taking significantly longer than previous power outages," said a representative for power company Vatenfall.

Communications affected

The power outage affected land line and cell phone communications. In addition, many of the affected buildings rely on electricity for their heat, meaning residents had to tough out a cold night, despite relatively mild daytime February temperatures this week.

The power company Vattenfall said heat could only be restored to the 5,000 affected residences once the power is back on.

There is also a hospital in the affected region. On Tuesday evening the emergency generator at Koepenick Clinic failed. Emergency crews set up an additional power supply to help the hospital get through the night, while some patients in need of extra care were transferred to other facilities.

Police have been out on affected streets in extra numbers to help ensure order. Many traffic lights were not working, and tram lines were unable to run without power.

The energy company Vattenfall said that the power should be restored by 1500 on Wednesday.

av/aw (dpa, AFP)

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