Power restored after TEPCO fire triggers mass Tokyo blackout, gov’t buildings affected

TOKYO — A temporary blackout across Tokyo has seen power fully restored to about 350,000 buildings affected, including government buildings, the government said on Wednesday.

According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government’s top spokesperson, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) had informed him that power had been restored to the grid, as well as the government buildings affected in the Kasumigaseki district of Tokyo.

Those included the Finance Ministry and the Foreign Ministry that temporarily lost power, were receiving full supply and were no longer relying on emergency backup generators.

Suga said initially that power supply had become unstable at a number of government offices and that the exact cause of the blackout was still being investigated, although terrorism had not been ruled out. He said however that as of 4 p.m. local time, power had been fully restored.

More than 350,000 homes in Tokyo were left without power Wednesday afternoon as firefighters and police rushed to put out a fire at one of TEPCO’s facilities in Saitama Prefecture, just outside Tokyo, after smoke was seen coming from a substation, local media reports said.

Fire fighters were seen in dramatic scenes battling a blaze that had caused huge plumes of thick black smoke to dominate an otherwise clear sky on Wednesday afternoon.

The flames were first detected from power lines near Tokyo, with buildings in the capital, including government offices, also affected and at least two subway lines having their operations suspended, public broadcaster NHK confirmed, quoting a local official from the city of Niiza.

Seibu Railway Co. said that it had suspended the majority of its operations during the blackout, according to a spokesperson from the company.

Along with a number of ministries in the central Tokyo area, the Tokyo High Court and District Court were also affected by the blackout, which forced some trials to be rescheduled, officials said.

Police and firefighters are probing the cause of the incident at the facility and along with the investigators, TEPCO believes there is a possibility that its substation’s power transmission line may have been damaged during the fire and resulted in the widespread blackout across the Tokyo Metropolitan area.

The blackout left some 350,000 houses without electricity, TEPCO said, with half of those affected being in Tokyo’s Nerima ward, while the Minato ward was also widely affected.

TEPCO, the police and the firefighters, as quoted by local media, said that investigations are continuing, but that they had not received reports of injury or damage as a result of the large-scale power outage.

TEPCO said as of its latest findings that there was no indication of terrorism at the site of the fire.

The embattled utility, still grappling in the wake of an ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture, said that the problem had been basically resolved by about 4:30 p.m. local time. PNA/Xinhua-northboundasia.com