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Mysterious Power Outage Paralyzes Tajikistan

Entire swathes of Tajikistan were left without electricity for around three hours on March 1 amid what appears to have been a major technical malfunction.

Households in the capital, Dushanbe, reported power outages at around 11 a.m. local time. Electricity supplies were restored three hours later.

Many homes were left without heating and hot water, both of which are supplied by means of a centralized system.

After weeks of unseasonably warm weather, daytime temperatures in Dushanbe have in recent days slipped to near or below freezing. This has prompted many to fall back on electric heaters, which appears in turn to have triggered staggered outages. Cold weather conditions are forecast to persist over the weekend.

Over the duration of the outage, no government officials publicly commented on the situation. 

Independent media outlet Asia-Plus cited unnamed sources as saying there had been an unspecified incident at the Nurek hydroelectric power plant. According to the World Bank's estimates, Nurek, which first went online in 1972, provides around 50 percent of the country's total energy needs. Asia-Plus said it was unable to get through to state-run power company Barki Tojik or Dushanbe city hall for official comment.

Some Dushanbe residents reported being left without running water at all. Certain mobile internet providers were also down. Mobile banking apps, which are increasingly used by Tajiks for their daily shopping needs, were not functioning.

There were indications that some parts of the country were spared the blackout. Asia-Plus said electricity was being supplied to homes in the southern city of Bokhtar. 

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Another region of the country that should have been unaffected was the mountainous Pamirs region of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, or GBAO, which is provided with electricity by local hydroelectric generators. 

While Dushanbe has latterly become unused to experiencing lengthy power outages, the rest of the country accepts them as a routine. 

When the temperature sinks below a certain level, output from the Nurek plant grinds to a near-halt. Under the annually imposed economy regime, which is meant to be ending sometime this month, households outside the country's largest urban centers endure blackouts from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

This article was updated following reports that power had been restored in Dushanbe.

By Eurasianet.org

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Eurasianet

Eurasianet is an independent news organization that covers news from and about the South Caucasus and Central Asia, providing on-the-ground reporting and critical perspectives on… More