BEIRUT — Lebanon’s electricity network collapsed on Saturday after the two most important power stations ran out of fuel, leaving private generators as the only source of power.
The state-owned electricity company has been providing citizens with just a few hours of power a day for months, but the total collapse of the national grid will compound the misery of those who can’t afford to run generators and had relied on those few hours.
The outage marks the latest milestone in the unraveling of Lebanon, which is undergoing what the World Bank has described as one of theworld’s three biggest financial collapses of the past 150 years.
The banking system was the first to implode in 2019, triggering a 90 percent slide in the value of the currency that has left the government unable to afford fuel, food and medicine imports while plunging millions of Lebanese into poverty.
The electricity grid ground to a halt after the country’s two main power stations, Deir Ammar and Zahrani, ran out of diesel fuel, leaving the nationwide network without the minimum amount of power required to sustain it, said Energy Minister Walid Fayyad.
The government is working to secure emergency fuel supplies from other sources, including the army, to bridge the shortfall until a shipment of Iraqi oil due to arrive Saturday night can be offloaded and distributed into the network. At most, he said, the total outage can be expected to last only a couple of days, and he hoped to find a stopgap solution faster.
But the collapse is a reminder of the dire state of Lebanon’s electricity sector, which has been unable to provide 24-hour power for decades. In recent months, its capacity has been further eroded by the lack of money and by corruption, with smugglers diverting state purchases of fuel to sell at a profit in neighboring Syria.
By Nader Durgham and Liz Sly
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