More electricity, it is with the candle that Sri Lanka was lit - ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP

The 21 million Sri Lankans found themselves deprived of electricity on Monday following an unspecified "technical problem" in a major thermal power station on the island of South Asia. The cut affected the whole country around noon local time (06:30 GMT). After six hours, power was restored to parts of Sri Lanka, but the capital Colombo remained in darkness after dark.

This is the worst power cut in Sri Lanka since March 2016. The whole country was left without power for more than eight hours because of a major blackout. A "technical problem" in the Kerawalapitiya power station, located on the outskirts of the capital Colombo, is at the origin of this blackout, according to the Minister of Electricity Dullas Alaaderuma.

Generators for hospitals

"Measures are being taken to restore power," he said in a statement, without indicating a deadline. By turning off the traffic lights, the cut caused chaos in the already congested streets of Colombo. Local police struggled to manually manage the flow of vehicles at many major intersections.

The country's hospitals and essential infrastructure have generators that allow them to take over. Local power cuts are common, but nationwide blackouts are rare. Kerawalapitiya is an oil-fired thermal power plant with a capacity of 300 megawatts, or about 12% of Sri Lanka's electricity consumption.

The country generates half of its electricity through thermal power stations. The rest comes from wind and water sources.

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