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Power returns to Lebanon after a 24-hour blackout

In this photo, Lebanon's capital city of Beirut remains in darkness during a power outage in March. Lebanon has had electricity cuts for decades but in recent weeks the small nation suffered severe power cuts over lack of fuel.
In this photo, Lebanon's capital city of Beirut remains in darkness during a power outage in March. Lebanon has had electricity cuts for decades but in recent weeks the small nation suffered severe power cuts over lack of fuel.

Electricity was restored to Lebanon's troubled power grid Sunday, a day after residents of the nation endured a full-on blackout amid ongoing fuel shortages. The nation's army began providing emergency fuel supplies, offering a partial restoration of power and a glimmer of hope, despite fears of more blackouts.

The nation's power grid shut down Saturday after weeks of providing only a few hours of electricity each day. Lebanon's two main power plants, which had become short of fuel — resulting from a years-long economic crisis — and stopped working completely, leaving fuel-powered generators as the country's only source of power.

Lebanon's Minister of Energy and Water, Walid Fayyad, said in a statement Sunday that the army had supplied fuel from its reserves to the two power plants, Zahrani and Deir Ammar.

Together, the two government-owned plants produce roughly 40% of the nation's power, according to the BBC.

Fayyad, who took on his current role after a new Lebanese government was formed in September after a 13-month impasse, said Sunday the power network had resumed "normal" operation — suggesting that enough power could be produced to allow for a few hours of use each day.

The Energy Ministry also said Sunday that the nation's central bank has granted it $100 million in credit to import fuel and keep the power plants operating.

With the help of other Middle Eastern nations, Lebanon has been receiving fuel and power supplies in recent weeks to continue operations. The country has received a fuel shipment from Iran via Syria. The new Lebanese government is also negotiating supplies of electricity from Jordan and natural gas from Egypt, also through Syria.

The fuel shortages are a result of Lebanon's ongoing economic crisis, which has been unfolding since 2019.

The crisis has been described by the World Bank as one of the worst in the world in over 150 years. More than 70% of the country's population is living in poverty and the national currency is in a freefall — losing 90% of its worth in two years — which has also driven unprecedented inflation and unemployment.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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