LUCKNOW, India (AP) — Thousands of people enraged by power cuts during an extreme heat wave rioted across northern India, setting electricity substations on fire and taking power company officials hostage, officials said Saturday.
The impoverished state of Uttar Pradesh has never had enough power for its 200 million people — about the population of Brazil — and many receive only a few hours a day under normal conditions, while 63 percent of homes have no access to electricity at all.
But recent temperatures that soared to 47 degrees Celsius (117 Fahrenheit) have caused power demand to spike at 11,000 megawatts — far higher than the state's 8,000 MW capacity — triggering blackouts that shut down fans, city water pumps and air conditioners.
Thousands of people stormed an electricity substation Friday near the state capital of Lucknow, ransacking offices and taking several workers hostage for 18 hours until police intervened Saturday morning, state utility official Narendra Nath Mullick said.
Elsewhere, an angry crowd set fire to an electricity substation in Gonda, 180 kilometers (112 miles) southeast of Lucknow. It took three hours for firefighters to put out the flames on Friday. Another substation was set on fire in Gorakhpur, 320 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Lucknow.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akilesh Yadav said officials were trying to purchase power from other states, though they were also facing shortages amid the extreme heat.
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