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Published: 19/8/2005, 06:03 (UAE)  

Power failure from unknown causes affects three provinces  

AP Jakarta: About 100 million people nearly half of Indonesia's population were affected yesterday by a power outage that cut electricity to homes, businesses and trains and caused major traffic jams in the capital, the state-owned power utility said.

The cause of the outage was unknown, said Mulia Aji of power utility PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara, adding it had nothing to do with fuel supplies to the company's power plants, which were disrupted last month.

At least three provinces - West Java, Banten and Jakarta were affected and parts of the resort island of Bali were also in the dark, officials said.

"We are still trying to find out the cause of the breakage and hope the condition could be improved within three hours," Mulia said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara to "immediately repair the Suralaya power plant", said presidential spokesman Andi Alfian Mallarangeng.

The Suralaya plant is considered the most important because it supplies power to the capital and densely populated western Java.

The blackout, which began at about 10:30am, caused traffic jams on some main roads in Jakarta.

Train service was also suspended in Jakarta and outlying suburbs, and some domestic flights were either delayed or cancelled.

Many homes and business were still without electricity nearly five hours after the blackout occurred, and some schools sent students home.

At the Parliament building, some legislators and visitors were forced to break open an elevator door after being trapped for about 10 minutes, a local media report said.

The trial of an Australian Embassy bomber, Mohammad Hasan, was also postponed because of the outage, his lawyer said.

The blackout occurred at a time when surging economic growth is fuelling record-high corporate and consumer demand for electricity in this country of 220 million people.

Indonesia's government has called for public energy conservation measures over the past three months to reduce demand on the national power grid.