A massive power blackout hit Mindanao early on Thursday, leaving millions of people in the dark.
Electricity was cut off shortly before 4 a.m. and power and energy officials said they were investigating the cause of the widespread outage that affected key areas in the southern region.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) could not explain the sudden blackout. It said electricity was restored in Davao City, General Santos City, Zamboanga City, Pagadian City, Cagayan de Oro City and parts of Misamis Oriental province five hours later. Power supply to the region normalized at 4 p.m. yesterday.
“Reports indicate that the Mindanao grid experienced a disturbance at 3:53 a.m. (We are) still determining the cause and extent of the disturbance,” the NGCP said in a statement.
“The NGCP continues to monitor the situation in Mindanao. The NGCP is still determining the cause and is working to restore the power transmission service to all power customers in Mindanao,” the agency said.
The military said it has no reports of any bombing of NGCP pylons in Mindanao.
“We also do not know the cause of the blackout,” Capt. Alberto Caber, a spokesman for the Eastern Mindanao Command, told The Manila Times.
In Western Mindanao, Capt. Maria Rowena Myuela, a regional military spokesman, said they have no reports of any attacks on NGCP towers.
“We were told by the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative that the power outage was caused by an abnormal supply of electricity,” she said.
Earlier in February, suspected rebels bombed, but failed to topple a power pylon of the NGCP in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao province. The 6th Infantry Division blamed the attack on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters who are waging a separatist war in the restive region of Mindanao.
Last September, rebels also blasted a steel pylon in the same town cutting electricity supply in several provinces.
Mindanao, the nation’s main southern islandm which relies mostly on hydroelectricity, has been grappling with chronic power shortages for years.
The NGCP said at least 12 of Mindanao’s key cities and provinces—including major trading hubs—were affected, although limited power was restored in some parts a few hours later.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said repair teams have been dispatched to trace the cause of the interruption.
“So far, there are no reports of damaged power plants. We are trying to figure out where” the source of the interruption was, he said, adding the outage was likely caused by a tripped transmission line.
An electricity shortage last year forced the NGCP to ration off supply in Mindanao, resulting in up to 12-hour daily blackouts which affected the local economy as factories slowed production.
The power cuts on Thursday hit islanders just as they were getting ready for work.