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Guangzhou Drill Mirrors Blackout Threat

An extensive blackout drill in Guangzhou this morning could help the city cope if it were hit by large-scale power supply failure, an official from the city government said, adding that it is the city's first ever such drill.

Today's simulated blackout in the city's busy downtown area began at 9 AM, when a supposed fire in a tunnel in Guangzhou's Tianhe District caused six core electricity substations in the Tianhe and Yuexiu districts to "malfunction," shutting down the electricity supply.

Over the next three hours emergency services and city engineers were set to work to tackle the fire and restore power.

Normal power supplies to local government departments, hospitals, department stores, supermarkets, schools, kindergartens, hotels, restaurants and residential houses were not affected.

The drill is designed to improve the city's preparedness for emergencies and further improve cooperation and coordination between government departments and other organizations, the official told China Daily.

Guangdong's provincial electricity grid was stretched to full capacity over the summer, with demand reaching the maximum output of more than 44 million kilowatts eight times.

This year saw record demand for power in the province and, if the increase in demand continues, unplanned blackouts could well hit next summer.

The electricity grid in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, has had to operate at full capacity several times, reaching 7.2 million kilowatts between July and September.

The gap between electricity supply and demand in Guangdong has reached more than 4.8 million kilowatt hours this year.

(China Daily October 12, 2005)

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