Power cut hits nearly 90,000 homes in southern France after explosion

The blast at a power substation also injured five technicians

Homes and shops were affected across three departments after the incident
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An explosion at a power substation in southern France left tens of thousands of households across three departments without power.

Homes were left on average without power for around an hour. In the worst-hit areas, it took up to four hours for it to be restored.

The explosion - the cause of which is still unknown - in Aubin on Tuesday (August 8) injured five technicians working at the site.

They were taken to the nearby hospital in nearby Decazeville, which had backup power in the form of generators.

Aubin is situated in the Aveyron department, around 140 kilometres north-east of Toulouse.

Firefighters from a number of stations close to the explosion site rushed to deal with the emergency, joined by a special team of electrical technicians who prevented further damage to the electrical system.

“The firefighters’ first objective was to allow RTE (Réseau de Transport d'Électricité) technicians to intervene on the general breakdown caused by the explosion,” said Michel Baert, the mayor of the Aubin commune.

‘Don’t bother coming to buy your bread’

The hospital and nearby EHPAD (elderly residents’ home) managed to avoid a power cut by using backup generators.

Elsewhere, however, residents in the towns and villages close to the power plant saw a mass outage around 14:30.

Residents and workers poured out into the streets to see if the problem was isolated just to them, or further spread.

“I just ran into the baker. His bread was in the oven, rising,” said one shopkeeper in the town of Decazeville.

“He told me: 'Don't bother coming tomorrow to get some bread tomorrow'," he added.

Of course, with the power outage, even calling people became a struggle.

“It was difficult to communicate. We got in touch with the ARS [Regional Health Agency] via the landline telephones, which were still working at the hospital,” said Christelle Dumoulin, manager of the hospital at Decazeville.

“Our generators came on the moment the power was cut… in four years of being manager here, I’ve never seen anything like it,” she added.

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Power back on by the evening

The outage primarily affected the Aveyron department, where 57,000 homes lost power.

There were a further 27,000 buildings that lost power in the Lot department, to the west of Aveyron, and a further 4,000 in the Cantal department to the north.

The Réseau de transport d'électricité (RTE), who manage the site where the explosion happened, said that power was returned to all buildings affected by 18:40.

RTE said it would launch an investigation into the accident.

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