Italy gets power back after huge blackout


Electricity returned to most of Italy by early this morning after a national blackout, although authorities said power cuts could still hit about 5 per cent of households.

Four deaths were unofficially attributed to the cut, the biggest in nearly a decade, which struck at 3.20 a.m. local time yesterday.

Almost all the country's 57 million people were affected, a scale similar to last month's collapse in the US Northeast and Canada. But, coming on a weekend night, its initial impact was less dramatic and caused less economic damage.

Authorities attributed the power loss to a breakdown of electricity lines, some in heavy storms, from France and Switzerland - neighbours who supply Italy some 17 per cent of its power, although they disagreed on who was to blame.

Industry Minister Antonio Marzano called for an investigation, which highlighted Italy's heavy reliance on imported power.

It was the fourth major Western blackout in two months, after cuts in North America, parts of London and Scandinavia.