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The Biggest Blackouts in History

We’ve seen a fair few power outages in our time, but what were the four biggest blackouts in history?

New York

July 13th 1977 is etched in history due to a total blackout in New York that lasted 24 hours. The main cause of the power outage was a lighting strike and it left 9 million residents without power. Chaos ensued on the streets, arsonists torched buildings, looters had a field day and the Mayor of New York, Abraham Beame, described the event as “a night of terror.” Scary stuff.

Hunan Province, China

Winter storms ripped through the province in 2008 wreaking havoc and leaving homes helpless in their wake. Electrical towers and power grids were most affected and in February of that year 4.5 million people were left without power for almost two weeks. 11 electricians died trying to get the power back online such was their dedication to the task.

Germany

Could a cruise ship cause a blackout? The answer is yes, and the ship in question was the newly built Norwegian Pearl that was leaving a shipyard in Papenburg on November 4th 2006. The German power company had to turn power off from a 380, 000 volt overhead line but the downed line caused a build-up of pressure in other areas of the power grid. It sparked a chain reaction across Germany which quickly spread to other parts of Europe and some 10 million people were left without power for two hours at a time.

India

July 30th and 31st 2012 set the record for the biggest power outage in history (at the time of writing). Excessive demand during peak times was the cause of the power outage and it left a staggering 670 million people without power. Power was eventually restored on August 1st but not before nearly half of all residents in India were left in the dark. Can that be bettered? We’ll have to wait and see!