Heat wave causes electrical blackouts, hazards in Aden [Archives:2008/1163/Local News]

May 12 2008

ADEN, June 9 ) Soaring temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius have caused mass power outages across Aden governorate, with many of the region's elderly suffering heat-related health problems. Electricity blackouts occur frequently in Aden year round; however, they worsen in the summer in one of Yemen's hottest governorates. Such blackouts can last for two hours in many Aden regions.

Some locals worry that the increasing heat will affect hospitals in a repeat of last year's heat wave tragedy wherein eight people reportedly died of heat-related causes just at Al-Jumhuriyya Hospital.

Aden hospitals don't have generators to rely on when the electricity goes out, which could lead to hundreds of injuries and possible deaths. So far, there have been no reports of injuries or deaths from heat-related causes.

Besides the hazards to hospitals, electricity blackouts also are causing large financial losses, such as rotting foodstuffs in markets and restaurants. Hotel owners also are at a standstill, unable to draw customers in the intense heat without the promise of proper cooling. In addition to the already-high living costs, electric bills increase to a minimum of YR 5,000 to YR 6,000 per month in the summer.

Many wealthier residents of Aden have resorted to buying mini-generators to help their children study and prepare for the current exam season.

The electricity office has been the target of much complaint, as these current difficult circumstances have resulted in broken down power plants.

Jalal Nasher, manager of Aden Electrical Corporation, maintains that the blackouts are out of his company's control, explaining that the outages occur due to high consumption and low output by the main generator in Khor Maksar district during the summer.

Electricity ministry officials have promised Aden residents that this year's blackouts will be less than last year, but there's been no change in the situation as of yet.