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Power blackout hits businesses in Thai South


16:29, May 22, 2013

BANGKOK, May 22 (Xinhua) -- A massive power blackout in Thailand's southern provinces Tuesday has hit businesses and shaken foreign investors' confidence in the country.

A massive power blackout hit 14 southern provinces Tuesday at about 7-8 p.m. local time after a transmission failure in southern Prachuap Khiri Khan province, the main power transmission line from the central region to the South, cut off supply from the central region.

The outage hit several key business towns and popular tourist destinations including Hat Yai district of Songkhla, Samui island and Phuket island.

As there is a growing confusion regarding the blackout, Secretary to the Prime Minister Wim Rungwattanajinda announced Tuesday night on public television that the blackout was caused by a problem with the transmission line and was not linked to the southern unrest.

Pira Petchpanich, president of the Federation of Southern Industries, Wednesday called on the government to urgently find a long-term solution and give priority to electrical power development including the use of renewable energy to avoid a recurrence of the disaster.

Pira said a preliminary survey was conducted to determine total damage from the power outage, which could be less than 10 billion baht (about 336,000 U.S. dollars).

The blackout took place after office hours but a number of industries including rubber wood processing, palm oil production and frozen food products were in operations and their power reserves were minimal, he said.

He urged the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) to quickly boost the stability of the country's power system.

Meanwhile, Pongsak Assakul, chairman of Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the electricity disaster could affect foreign investors'confidence as the South is Thailand's significant tourism region.

Somporn Siriporananond, president of Chamber of Commerce of Songkhla, said the power outage which lasted more than three hours affected retail businesses while the tourism industry was only slightly hurt as most hotels are equipped with power back-up.

Hat Yai Hospital postponed two surgeries due to insufficient electricity, he said, adding that the damages at some major factories such as seafood processing and latex plants were quite severe.

Damages from the blackout to industries in Songkhla alone could reach 500 million baht (about 17 million dollars), he said.

Energy Minister Pongsak Ruktapongpisal said during a press briefing Wednesday that the ministry will set up a committee to study Tuesday's outage in order to prevent future incident.

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