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Power restored in main Philippines island
ANILA: President Gloria Arroyo on Monday ordered officials of state-run utility firm National Power Corporation to ensure no more power outages occur in the future, a day after the entire main Philippine island of Luzon was plunged into darkness.
Sunday's eight-hour outage left some 35 million people groping in the dark and fueled rumours of a coup de'etat against the government.
NPC president Jesus Alcordo said power in all areas was restored before dawn Monday, and blamed the outage on technical problems that caused the automatic shutdown of three coal-fired power plants.
But the NPC also said it was checking whether there had been any sabotage or other form of damage to its thousands of kilometers of overhead transmission lines.
Alcorda said NPC's Sual coal-fired power plant in northern Pangasinan province shut down automatically after detecting technical trouble. It triggered a domino effect on other power plants that caused the outage across Luzon.
"We restored power to all of Luzon at about 1:30 am this morningSunday)," NPC spokeswoman Josephine Mangila told ABS-CBN television.
"We're looking at a technical failure at major power facilities not only owned by Napocor but also independent power producers," she added.
The outage, occurring hours after President Gloria Arroyo left for Brunei to attend a regional summit, had fueled rumors of a military takeover that forced repeated denials by government and military officials.
Luzon island holds 45 percent of the country's population and the bulk of its industries and economic activity.
Presidential spokesman Rigoberto Tiglao said Arroyo on Monday called NPC officials from Brunei and ordered them to put in place measures to prevent a similar outage.
"The president's instructions were for the NPC to draw up detailed plans to prevent a repetition of this Sual tripping because this was the second time it happened," Tiglao told reporters.
In December 1999, tonnes of jellyfish -- enough to fill up 50 dump trucks -- fouled up the cooling system of the Sual plant causing a Luzon-wide outage.
NPC officials have ruled out a repeat of the 1999 incident.
"The president wants the NPC to get to the bottom of this latest tripping, whatever its cause, be it structural or technical," Tiglao said.
Mangila said the state utility has not found any damage to its major transmission lines and was now in the process of inspecting secondary lines.
"We have not received any report" of any damage, she said.
"We feel confident in saying there's no major problem in transmission lines."
Mangila said "our plants are fully secured" and added NPC was coordinating with local officials as well as with police and military units to help guard the transmission lines. ( AFP )
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 05, 2001