Conflicts & War

Ukraine scrambles to restore energy after Russian missile barrage

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, Nov 16 (EFE).- Authorities across Ukraine were working to restore power supplies a day after Russia launched a wave of missile strikes targeting the country’s critical infrastructure as the population adjusts to life without heating and electricity with winter looming.

The number of households without electricity ranges from 2 to 4 million as emergency power outages are applied throughout Ukraine, the deputy head of the presidential administration of Ukraine, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said.

He warned that blackouts could continue for two to three more days. According to Tymoshenko, authorities in some regions, including Lviv, Kyiv and Khmelnytskyi, have already stabilized the situation.

However, only about 30% of the households in the western Lviv region can access electricity at the same time, its governor, Maksym Kozytskyi, said at a briefing Wednesday.

He added that six out of 13 Russian missiles that reached the region managed to get through the air defense systems. They impacted three critical energy infrastructure targets, including two that were attacked by another wave of missiles last month.

Still, while 80% of the city remained in darkness on Tuesday, the overwhelming majority of the consumers had their access to electricity restored by the next day.

The city’s mayor Andriy Sadovyi also said that centralized heating and water supply were available again but warned people to prepare for the next barrage of Russian attacks by storing water, warm clothes and power banks.

While most of the city was plunged into darkness on Tuesday, some shops, restaurants and pharmacies continued to operate. Diesel and petrol-fueled generators could be heard from afar, placed right at the entrance of the buildings to avoid the gasses from spent fuel from accumulating.

“It will suffice to power our pharmacy for 12 hours,” a pharmacy supervisor told Efe.

A shop nearby served its numerous clients while flashlights illuminated a small room with dim light.

Bread and ready-made meals were in the highest demand.

Payments were made mostly with cash as access to the internet was intermittent — cell phone operators only focused on making calls and texting available.

With a single operating radio station serving as the only source of news, many locals knew next to nothing about the details of the Russian attack apart from what they saw and heard themselves.

Unlike after the previous blackout, however, more people strolled, cycled and even jogged on the dark streets with many either holding flashlights or using headlamps to navigate.

Heating homes is expected to be a more challenging issue, however, with temperatures forecast to dip below zero for the first time this autumn.

On Tuesday, the centralized heating system, which relies on water being heated and pumped into the radiators in residential blocks, was forced to shut down in Lviv.

Those who still have old gas-powered stoves have relied on them to keep their apartments warm as gas supplies are not currently an issue. Candles, flashlights and power banks have served to provide at least basic light and to charge cell phones.

Some newly-built homes rely almost exclusively on electricity-powered heating, however. Many cities, including Lviv and Kyiv, encourage the organizations of homeowners to buy diesel electricity generators by compensating from 50% to 75% of their price.

The generators, as well as car accumulators that are also used to cover basic electricity needs in homes, are currently in short supply despite the government lifting all taxes and tariffs from import last week.

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