Business & Economy

Kabul, eastern Afghanistan faces blackout amid COVID-19 crisis

Kabul, Apr 27 (efe-epa).- An explosion at a high voltage power pylon near Kabul has left the entire eastern part of Afghanistan, including the capital, without electricity, official sources informed EFE Monday.

The blackout comes at a time when the country is under a lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis, with a crucial need for electricity in hospitals and greater demand in the people’s homes.

The pylon, supplying electricity to Kabul and at least seven other provinces from neighboring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, was blown up overnight using explosives, state-owned electricity company DABS spokesperson Wahidullah Tawhidi said.

Afghanistan, a country with a frail power infrastructure, imports around 70 percent of its electricity from neighboring countries, mainly Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

“While inflicting millions of dollars of losses on us, the destruction of the pylon and the power supply cut came at a critical time when our hospitals and households are badly in need of electricity amid the COVID-19 crisis,” Tawhidi said.

The spokesperson further said that at the moment, only 20 percent of the people in Kabul had access to power, along with some hospitals and government institutions providing “urgent services.”

He added that teams have been dispatched to repair the damages and electricity supply was expected to resume in all the affected areas over the next four to five days.

The authorities, who have attributed previous attacks on power infrastructures in northern Afghanistan to the Taliban, are currently investigating the incident.

“The pylon has been destroyed using (an) improvised explosive device. The police are currently investigating to determine who were behind the attack,” Kabul Police spokesperson Firdaws Faramarz said.

This is the second time in a week that Kabul and eastern Afghanistan are facing a blackout, after the insurgents cut off a power transmission line in northern Baghlan province on Apr. 23.

The blackouts come at a moment when most parts of the country, particularly its capital, remains under quarantine to check the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus.

The virus has so far infected 1,703 people – 172 of them in the past 24 hours – in 33 of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan, a country with one of the weakest healthcare infrastructures in the world.

Kabul, with 479 coronavirus infections, has so far recorded the highest number of positive cases, followed by the western city of Herat with 420.

The first COVID-19 infection in the country was detected on Feb. 24, and since then it has claimed the lives of 57 people – seven of them in last 24 hours. EFE-EPA


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