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Blackouts caused by a tornado

A TORNADO touched down in Jiading District yesterday afternoon, injuring nine people and causing serious power blackouts across many parts of Shanghai.

Witnesses said the 20-minute tornado hit around 2:50pm, damaging homes and businesses in Dongjie Village of Huangdu Town.

Nine villagers were injured, including one person who suffered a fracture. The eight others received minor wounds, Xinhua news agency reported.

The storm that created the twister hit suburban Jiading, Qingpu and Baoshan districts. In Jiading, about 32 millimeters of rain fell within one hour, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

Lightning destroyed 15 minor power lines in Jiading, knocking out the power to 3,760 families and 124 business users, according to the district power supplier.

The tornado then brought down five high-voltage power wires, which are a key part of the city's power grid.

The short circuit knocked five transformer substations 鈥?about half of the substations downtown 鈥?offline.

The result was massive blackouts downtown starting around 4pm in Changning, Jing'an, Putuo, Luwan, Zhabei and Huangpu districts.

The most heavily affected areas were Jing'an and Putuo districts.

The Shanghai Electric Power Co couldn't say how many families and businesses were affected by the blackouts.

"It is difficult to tell (the number of affected businesses or residents) at present," said Chen Ming, an official with the company's power dispatching center.

Officials did say that hundreds of thousands of residents were affected by the blackouts, many shops were forced to close their doors and some factories had to suspend production.

More than 4,000 calls flooded the company's repair hot line during the first three hours of the blackout, as residents demanded to know what was going on, according to a hot line operator.

"I finally made it through, but the operator said they didn't know when the supply would resume," said Han Minwen, a local resident living on Aomen Road.

The blackout had affected elevators in Han's building, so he couldn't get to his 32nd floor apartment when he returned home after work.

Two people were trapped in the dark elevator when it suddenly stopped, and weren't rescued until 30 minutes later, Han said.

Lights along many roads in the city were also off last night as many residents prepared to head home from the office.

"There was no light except from the car headlights," said a woman who walked home along Wuning Road.

Many residents who couldn't cook at home without power were distraught to find that restaurants in several parts of the city were closed down by the blackout.

At a Shanghairenjia outlet on Nanjing Road W., the sudden power failure forced the restaurant to send customers to other outlets, but the restaurant did pay their taxi fares.

The power supply didn't return to normal until 8pm.


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