Thursday, May 26, 2005

Moscow in trouble

Moscow in trouble over blackout
May 25 2005 09:38:08:123PM

Moscow - Managers at Russia's electricity monopoly, United Energy Systems, are to face criminal negligence charges over the power outage that hit Moscow and outlying regions on Wednesday, the general prosecutor's office was quoted as saying by Interfax.

"A criminal charge has been filed" for negligence, a spokesperson for the prosecutor said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also lashed out at the management of UES, saying its bosses should pay more attention to daily management.

UES' politically powerful head Anatoly Chubais has apologised for the electricity cut, which caused chaos in Moscow's transport system and is believed to have started with a breakdown at an ageing power plant in the south of the city.

The massive power outage caused chaos in Moscow on Wednesday, stranding around 20 000 people in underground metro tunnels, disrupting traffic above ground and leaving large sections of the Russian capital without electricity.

Traffic lights went out, creating enormous jams, trolley buses and trams ground to a halt, while mobile phone networks crashed.

More than 20 medical establishments switched to generators and one of Moscow's stock exchanges suspended trading.

Amid soaring temperatures and sticky weather, 1 500 people were reported to have been stranded in lifts, while many thousands struggled to get into overcrowded buses, or flag down the remaining taxis.

The blackout, blamed on an accident at an ageing Soviet-era power plant in the south of the bustling metropolis, hit four southern districts.

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