Mon, 22 Dec 2003

Storm causes massive blackout in Manado

Jongker Rumteh, The Jakarta Post, Manado, North Sulawesi

A storm that hit Manado in the past few days has incapacitated some 50 percent of the total 117 megawatt installed electricity capacity in the city, leading to a massive blackout here, an official said on Saturday.

"The bad weather has paralyzed between 50 megawatt and 60 megawatt of installed electricity capacity in the city and its surrounding areas," Andreas Heru Sumaryanto, the head of state electricity company PT PLN's Manado branch, was quoted as saying by Antara news agency.

Heru said that the torrential rain that occurred in the North Sulawesi capital of Manado from Thursday to Saturday, had toppled many trees throughout the city.

The trees fell onto power lines and dragged down many electricity poles in Manado and its surrounding areas, he said. As a result, the incident has caused massive outages in the area.

As the storm largely subsided on Saturday, Heru said that his office started to deploy 10 teams of PLN employees to tackle the damage.

He said that the teams had restored electricity in some areas, but they had to work harder to restore electricity in many other areas.

Perkamil district in Manado was one of the areas that had power reconnected on Saturday.

The storm hit Manado and its surrounding areas on Thursday, ruining several houses and 14 cafes in the Bahu Mall business district in the city.

Fortunately, no fatalities were reported in the incident.

Manado was not the only area in North Sulawesi province that was hit by the storm. The storm had also reportedly hit South Minahasa regency in the province, some 50 kilometers south of Manado.

"The storm has badly damaged 15 homes, but no fatalities were reported in the incident," Frany, an official at the regency administration, told The Jakarta Post by phone.

Meanwhile, as of Saturday, authorities in Manado had lifted the storm warning for boats or ships cruising in the area, as storm had subsided.

Brury Rantung, an official at Manado seaport, said that his office allowed on Saturday three passenger ships to depart from the seaport to Talaud and Tamako, two other cities in the province. They were the Maria Queen, Valentine I and the Victoria.

The seaport authority allowed them to sail, after waves subsided to one meter high on average on Saturday morning, he said. Waves reached two meters to three meters on Thursday and Friday, when the storm struck Manado.

"Although the storm has subsided, the ships' crews have to remain vigilant. They are advised to cruise in waters near the shore, so that they can seek safety if the storm strikes again," he said.