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Egypt says rolling blackouts to end in 4 months

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 20, 2014 at 9:48 am •  Published: August 20, 2014

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian officials promised Wednesday to end rolling power blackouts that have plagued the country within four months, blaming the outages on a fuel shortage, hot weather and poor maintenance of power plants.

Neighborhoods in Egypt sink into darkness for hours during the day, leaving millions without power. The crisis has caused water cuts, affected hospitals and cut communications as many had difficulty recharging their mobile phones.

Parts of the capital lose power numerous times a day, plunging entire neighborhoods into darkness for an hour or more each time.

In one incident, doctors were forced to carry out a two-hour surgical procedure to remove a woman's uterus at a public hospital in Ismailia city with only lights from cellphones to see with, after the frequent power cuts also ruined the building's generators. Pictures of the operation were posted by Egypt's official Doctors' Syndicate.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehlab described the outages as a "severe problem" and "complicated." He linked them to several factors, including a shortage of natural gas, out-of-service power plants needing maintenance and hot weather.

He had previously blamed some of the outages on 300 attacks by saboteurs on electrical lines, which he said had led up to a 15 percent reduction in production by up to 15 percent. At the time, Mehlab was referring to Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

On Monday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who led the overthrow of Morsi, told governors during five-hour meeting to guard electrical lines from attacks.

"The needy people are in pain because of attacks on pylons that cause blackouts for one, two or more hours," el-Sissi said during the meeting, parts of which were broadcast on state television.

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