Half a million people have been left without power after a “significant” accident at an electricity substation in Odesa, southern Ukraine.
The Black Sea port and its surrounding areas were plunged into darkness following a large-scale network failure, Ukraine‘s grid operator Ukrenergo reported.
It said the failure involved equipment “repeatedly repaired” after Russia’s attacks on the country’s energy grid and warned residents should brace themselves for lengthy blackouts.
“Unfortunately, the scale of the accident is quite significant, and this time, the power supply restrictions will be longer. It is not yet possible to determine a specific time when (power) will be fully restored,” the company said.
Maksym Marchenko, a Ukrainian colonel, wrote on Telegram: “A serious accident occurred at one of the energy facilities of NPC Ukrenergo, which caused a fire.
“Because of this, the Odessa region and the city of Odessa were almost completely de-energized. As of now, almost 500,000 subscribers have no electricity.”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said: “The situation is difficult, the scale of the accident is significant, it is impossible to quickly restore power supply, in particular to critical infrastructure.”
He said the substation had previously been damaged multiple times by Russian missile strikes.
Mr Shmyhal said the energy minister and national grid operator’s CEO were on their way to oversee repairs, while authorities were working to restore power to critical infrastructure and apartment blocks which need electricity to heat homes.
The temperature in the southern city was at 2C today and is due to dip below freezing for much of next week.
DTEK Odesa Power Grids wrote on Facebook it was the second “large-scale accident” to take place in the last 24 hours.
Mr Shmyhal said he had ordered Ukraine’s energy ministry to scramble every available high-power generator in its nationwide inventory and deliver it to Odesa within a day.
He also ordered Ukraine’s foreign ministry to appeal to Turkey to send powerships – vessels which carry power plants – to come to the city’s aid.