Lebanon power company says protesters behind national blackout

The Lebanese Electricity Company said, on Saturday, that power stations stopped working after protesters stormed a major substation and tampered with electrical equipment.

The tiny Mediterranean country is already suffering from round-the-clock blackouts that last at least 20 hours a day due to the financial crisis that has hampered major imports, including fuel for power plants.

The Electricité du Liban (EDL) said in a statement that demonstrators angry over the power outage stormed the Electricite du Liban sub-station in the Aramoun area, north of Beirut, on Saturday.

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She added that “the demonstrators cut off the electricity at a capacity of 150-220 kilovolts and opened electrical circuits linking the Zahrani power station to the Aramoun station.”

“This caused disturbances in the electrical network… which led to power outages throughout the Lebanese territories as of 17:27 (1527 GMT)”.

The turmoil will put more pressure on private generators, which are already struggling to keep up with the near-total absence of state power.

Owners of private generators have raised prices and rationed supplies in recent months, with costs rising after the government gradually lifted fuel subsidies.

The average generator bill for a Lebanese family usually costs more than the minimum monthly wage of 675,000 Lebanese pounds – now worth just $22 as the local currency hits record lows against the dollar on the black market.

The international community has long called for a comprehensive overhaul of Lebanon’s devastated electricity sector, which has cost the government more than $40 billion since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

Lebanon reached a deal to bring Jordanian electricity and Egyptian gas into the country via war-torn Syria, while Shiite militia Hezbollah separately began delivering hydrocarbons from Iran.

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