Pakistan orders inquiry into nationwide power cut

A Pakistani man preparing tea at his restaurant during a nationwide power blackout in Karachi, 24 February 2013 While power cuts are common, a nationwide failure is rare

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Pakistan's government has ordered an inquiry into the cause of a nationwide power cut that plunged the country into darkness for a few hours.

The electricity network broke down on Sunday after a power plant in south-western Balochistan province developed a technical fault, officials say.

The cities of Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Rawalpindi were among those affected.

Power cuts are common in Pakistan, but a nationwide failure is rare.

A breakdown at the Balochistan plant - which generates 1,200 megawatts of electricity daily - triggered other plants to shut down, water and power ministry official Rai Sikandar said.

"It was a technical fault in one of our power plants and not in the national grid," he told Agence France-Presse news agency.

Blackouts are nothing new in Pakistan because of chronic power shortages, with many areas having no electricity for several hours a day, says the BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad.

But on Sunday night, the darkness that suddenly enveloped the country caused some to fear there had been a terrorist attack or a military coup, our correspondent adds.

Power is being restored on a phased basis, officials say.

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