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Blackout in most of Bangladesh after national grid failure

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A customer holds a candle as he gets his haircut at a barber's shop during a power cut

Large swathes of Bangladesh were left without electricity on Tuesday after a grid failure, a government official said, adding that authorities were working to gradually restore power supply in the country of 168 million people.

The country’s power grid malfunctioned at around 2 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Tuesday, leading to blackouts across 75-80% of the Bangladesh, Bangladesh Power Development Board official Shameem Hasan told Reuters.

An investigation was underway to ascertain the reason for the grid’s collapse and power had been restored in 45% of the regions hit by the blackouts, he said.

Bangladesh, which gets three quarters of its electricity from imported natural gas, has been facing frequent power cuts this year due to its inability to address higher power demand.

The country has rationed some gas supplies amid high global prices driven up by Russia’s war in Ukraine. The government vowed frugal spending after reporting a record fiscal deficit last year.

Over a third of the country’s 77 gas-powered units were short of fuel, government data showed on Tuesday.

GARMENT FACTORIES HIT

Operations at Bangladesh’s lucrative export-oriented garment industry, which supply to clients such as Walmart WMT.N, Gap Inc GPS.N, H&M HMb.ST, VF Corp VFC.N, Zara and American Eagle Outfitters AEO.N were hit by the power outage on Tuesday.

“To cope with the (power) crisis, we have been using generators. Today’s outage was unpredictable. We had to shut our offices,” because generators can not run for long periods, Shahidullah Azim, Vice President of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association told Reuters.

The association represents members that have more than 4,500 garment factories nationwide. Bangladesh is the world’s second-biggest garment exporter after China.

“We can’t run factories without power,” Azim added.

Bangladesh’s peak power demand was about 14,200 MW on Tuesday evening, 3% higher than the 13,800 MW forecast by the Bangladesh Power Development Board, according to government data.

Power demand growth in Bangladesh in recent years has largely been driven by the residential segment, compared with industries.

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