Riyadh (AFP) June 23, 2010
There will be no more power shortages over the summer, the Saudi state power company chief said Wednesday, after a scorching heat wave caused cuts and left three people reported dead over four days.
"The situation is normal now. We do not expect any more shortages for the rest of the summer," including August, when temperatures usually reach their highest in the desert kingdom, Saudi Electricity chairman Ali Al-Barrak told AFP.
Temperatures topped 50 degrees Celsius (122 Farenheit) in a number of areas around the country Monday and Tuesday, causing power outages that hit schools during the annual exam period and blacking out World Cup football broadcasts.
Newspaper reports said students had passed out from the heat during exams in some schools where the air conditioning had stopped.
Though Wednesday witnessed slightly lower temperatures, the state meteorology department forecast another rise on Thursday and Friday.
Barrak said the power company had been able to get its generating capacity back up to meet demand after a few days of a supply crunch.
The heat boiled to 52 degrees Celsius (125 degrees Fahrenheit) in the west coast hub of Jeddah on Monday, forcing short electricity outages that sent residents fleeing to hotels and shopping centres that could still run their air conditioning.
Similar temperatures in Taif, southeast of Jeddah, sparked a panic at a children's hospital when the power went out, according to Okaz newspaper. The hospital had backup generators for its emergency and intensive care departments only.
Barrak said Saudi Electricity had only two days notice of the surge in heat, catching the company out with some capacity down for service.
"The heat is a record" for this time of year, he said.
"It was not a serious situation. We had a few percent of supply shortage in a few areas."
"If we know a week ahead then we can respond better," Barrak added.
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