New York: The heart of New York has been hit by a massive blackout that darkened Times Square, disrupted Broadway shows, stranded underground metro trains and paralysed traffic. The Saturday evening disaster cut power to several hundred thousand people in the capital of the nation’s media that often mocks India and other developing countries for their infrastructure problems.
The blackout cut a swath through the midtown from the Hudson River on the west to trendy Fifth Avenue and from Madison Square Garden to the Lincoln Centre, blanketing tourist magnets like Times Square and Rockefeller Centre. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he was calling out the National Guard and sending state troopers to help the city.
About 25,000 fans of Jennifer Lopez were evacuated from her concert at the Madison Square Garden after the third song. Broadway musicals and plays were also cancelled and some artistes took their music to the streets holding impromptu concerts. Chaos prevailed underground where five train lines were affected and thousands of passengers were stranded on the trains and in the stations before a slow evacuation began. Citizen volunteers helped direct traffic at cross-sections after the electric signals failed disrupting vehicles.
John McAvoy, the CEO of ConEdison, the city’s private electricity company, told the media that over 73,000 connections were affected. He said that a “significant disturbance” at an electric substation triggered the power failure with the problem cascading to other substations. New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill at a news conference ruled out “criminality” behind the blackout. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told TV news stations that hospitals were running on emergency power and did not have air conditioning during the blackout. Power was slowly being restored to affected areas more than blackouts began. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was away in Iowa campaigning for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, was rushing back to the city as he was being upstaged by local political rivals. (IANS)