State of emer­gency in Crimea af­ter power lines blown up

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

SEV­ASTOPOL: Crimea de­clared a state of emer­gency yes­ter­day af­ter its main elec­tric­ity lines from Ukraine were blown up, leav­ing the Rus­sian-an­nexed penin­sula in dark­ness af­ter the sec­ond such at­tack in as many days. More than 1.6 mil­lion peo­ple are with­out power, wa­ter sup­plies to high-rise build­ings have stopped and ca­ble and mo­bile In­ter­net is down.

The elec­tric­ity feed from Ukraine was cut at 00:25 am (2225 GMT), the Crimean branch of Rus­sia’s emer­gency sit­u­a­tions min­istry said in a state­ment. Crimea still de­pends on Ukraine for its elec­tric­ity even af­ter its an­nex­a­tion by Rus­sia in March last year, a move which paved the way for the up­ris­ing in east­ern Ukraine that has now killed more than 8,000 peo­ple.

The Black Sea penin­sula pro­duces only 30 per­cent of its own en­ergy needs, ac­cord­ing to the re­gional gov­ern­ment. “As of 1 pm (1000 GMT), 1,641,000 peo­ple have been left with­out elec­tric­ity,” and 150 schools have no power, Rus­sia’s en­ergy min­istry said.

So far, Crimea has enough fuel to keep the gas and diesel-pow­ered gen­er­a­tors it has run­ning for 29 days, the Rus­sian au­thor­i­ties said.

An explosion on Satur­day in Ukraine’s Kher­son re­gion bor­der­ing Crimea cut the two work­ing power lines to the penin­sula, the state en­ergy com­pany Ukren­ergo told In­ter­fax-Ukraine news agency. Two of the to­tal four power lines had al­ready been downed Fri­day in sep­a­rate blasts.

In the port city of Sev­astopol, elec­tric­ity was cut off com­pletely at 2:00 am, al­though dif­fer­ent dis­tricts have since had brief rolling pe­ri­ods of power, an AFP jour­nal­ist re­ported.

“I had no elec­tric­ity all night. Th­ese use­less of­fi­cials can’t run the city and they still haven’t built a lo­cal power sta­tion,” said 49year-old res­i­dent Kon­stantin. “It’s not the first time Ukraine has cut off elec­tric­ity to Crimea, we are al­ready used to power cuts and stock up on bat­ter­ies,” added Oleg, 56.

“The prob­lem is the fridge keeps go­ing off.”

‘Act of ter­ror­ism’

Af­ter the first at­tack on Fri­day, Ukren­ergo posted pic­tures of a downed py­lon and one with a hole blown through it. “The na­ture of the dam­age shows that it took place as a re­sult of shelling or the use of ex­plo­sive de­vices,” it said.

The head of the anti-nar­cotics depart­ment of Ukraine’s in­te­rior min­istry, Ilya Kiva, who was at the scene, wrote on Face­book: “The py­lons have just been blown up!!!”

The iden­tity of the at­tack­ers is not known. “The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing. So far there are no hy­pothe­ses, the in­ves­ti­ga­tors are work­ing,” Ukrainian in­te­rior min­istry spokes­woman Nataliya Sta­tivko told AFP.

Crimea’s leader Sergei Aksy­onov sug­gested Ukraine was in­volved in the blasts and said Crimea’s pros­e­cu­tors have opened their own crim­i­nal probe. “I think Ukraine isn’t look­ing for (the at­tack­ers). Its agen­cies may have done this them­selves. I con­sider this ac­tion was agreed upon,” Aksy­onov told Moscow’s Govorit Moskva ra­dio.

Rus­sian se­na­tor Franz Klint­se­vich called the at­tacks “an act of ter­ror­ism.” “Blow­ing up the power lines... close to the Crimean border has prac­ti­cally cut off the whole penin­sula. That’s a real act of ter­ror­ism,” he told RIA Novosti news agency. Crimean Tatars, an eth­nic group na­tive to the penin­sula who op­pose Rus­sian rule, have been hold­ing protests at the site of the bro­ken power lines since Satur­day, call­ing for a block­ade of Crimea to protest at the jail­ing of dozens of activists.

“We want to end the oc­cu­pa­tion of Crimea,” said Re­fat Chubarov, one of the lead­ers of the com­mu­nity. He de­clined to com­ment on whether activists could have been in­volved in the ex­plo­sions, say­ing: “I wasn’t there.” Crimea ex­pe­ri­enced sev­eral to­tal power cuts last win­ter, at­trib­uted by the au­thor­i­ties to re­pairs and tech­ni­cal prob­lems, but seen by res­i­dents as de­lib­er­ate pres­sure from Ukraine. Rus­sia plans to build two gas-pow­ered power sta­tions in Crimea which would burn gas piped from the main­land, but th­ese are still at the plan­ning stage. — AFP

SIM­FER­OPOL: A man sells can­dles on a street af­ter a power fail­ure, in Sim­fer­opol, Crimea yes­ter­day. Rus­sia’s En­ergy Min­istry says nearly 2 mil­lion peo­ple on the Crimean Penin­sula are with­out elec­tric­ity af­ter two trans­mis­sion tow­ers in Ukraine were dam­aged by ex­plo­sions. — AP

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