Looting, arson, as major power outage hits New York
A major power outage on Saturday evening hit parts of New York, the commercial capital of the United States giving room for looting.
The blackout, which occurred in Midtown Manhattan, the city’s economic and administrative centre, disrupted traffic light, elevator and subway services.
This resulted in heavy traffic gridlock in affected streets and avenues, leaving many commuters stranded.
Local media reports say the outage occurred just before 7 p.m. (midnight Nigerian time) following a fire outbreak at a power substation on West 49th Street.
Con Edison, the city’s leading electricity service provider, said no fewer than 45,000 customers were without power in the affected area.
In a tweet, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) said various underground stations were affected.
It added that trains were bypassing stations affected by the power failure, and that service into Manhattan from areas such as Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, would be limited.
The Mayor of New York, Mr Bill de Blasio, said the city’s emergency management agency was working with the police and fire service to respond to affected areas.
Coincidentally, Saturday marked the 42nd anniversary of a major blackout in 1977 which affected much of the city for 48 hours.
Reports say that incident resulted in widespread looting, arson and other criminal activities.
As at the time of filing this report at 8.30 p.m. (1.30 a.m. in Nigeria) power had not been restored, but Con Edison said it was working hard to remedy the situation as soon as possible.
The Governor of New York, Mr Andrew Cuomo, issued a statement saying he was hopeful power would be restored by midnight (5 a.m. Nigerian time).
Later in a live television interview, Cuomo said he had ordered the deployment of more police officers and paratroopers to help in traffic control and tighten security in the city.
He said the spread of the outage from the substation where it started showed that the power company failed to install circuit breaker.
The incident triggered social media reports of ordinary citizens directing traffic at some intersections.
The New York Fire Department said it received reports of people stuck in elevators on the Upper West Side and subway passengers stuck on trains.
Several events, including an ongoing concert by American pop star, Jennifer Lopez, at Madison Square Garden, one of the affected places, were cancelled.