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Russian city dark after utility cuts off power
By ANATOLY MEDETSKY, Associated Press
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (June 6, 2001 08:43 a.m. EDT) - About 56,000 residents of an impoverished mining town were without water and electricity for a second day on Wednesday after a utility company cut service over unpaid bills.
Utility company Dalenergo says it shut off power in Partizansk because the city in Russia's Far East has run up a $3.4 million debt for electricity. The company also cut off daytime power to the pumps that circulate running water to homes in the region, meaning no water during the day in Partizansk or in Nakhodka, a city of 180,000.
Power cutoffs are frequent in Russia's Far East due to lack of money and political tussles over who should pay. Dalenergo says it is owed about $37 million by cities in the region.
Many of Partizansk's residents are former miners who lost their jobs when the mine closed. Few have paying work and the cash to pay utility bills.
The town's two hospitals had power - a fortunate thing for residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, who thus escaped the blackout. But the hospitals were still hit with the water shortage.
"We make reserves of water by filling up all kinds of tanks and buckets, but we need running, not bucket, water for our treatments," said Irina Zhirkova, chief doctor of City Hospital No.1.
Day care centers closed because they didn't have water to prepare food, and the Emergency Situations Ministry set up a field kitchen at a vocational school for the homeless, said Gennady Yashin, an assistant to the mayor.
Dalenergo is also owed money by Vodokanal, the organization that pumps the water, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.
In an attempt to force payment, Dalenergo had been cutting off power to one of two intakes on the Partizansk River every day for the past week from morning until evening, ITAR-Tass said.
But the company is now cutting off power to both intakes, meaning no water at all during the day.
-- Rachel Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 07, 2001