Blackout disrupts Manhattan, darkens Broadway theaters

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A large swath of New York’s Manhattan borough was plunged into darkness Saturday after a transformer explosion knocked out energy to subways, shops and Broadway theaters, however the metropolis’s principal utility mentioned it had restored most energy inside hours.

No deaths or accidents had been reported because of the blackout, which officers mentioned started at 6:47 p.m. EDT (2247 GMT), and darkened a stretch of town from West 42nd Street to West 72nd Street. The outage occurred 42 years to the day from a serious 1970s blackout that sparked looting and rioting within the United States’ most populous metropolis.

“I just flew over the city and most of the lights are back on, that’s clear. Not all of the lights are back on, that’s also clear,” New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo instructed a information convention about 5 hours after the outage started. “It is chaotic now on the West Side, certainly.”

By midnight, energy had been restored to a lot of the prospects who had misplaced it, mentioned John McAvoy, chief govt of utility Con Edison [CENY.UL]. More than 73,000 properties and companies misplaced energy, officers mentioned.

Shouts of celebration might be heard in components of Manhattan as energy was restored, bringing lights and air conditioners again to life.

The reason for the outage was unclear, McAvoy mentioned, including, “it does not appear related to excessive load.”

A Reuters witness reported listening to an explosion on the Upper West Side round 7 p.m. (2300 GMT), and a metropolis Fire Department spokesman mentioned firefighters had been on the scene of a transformer fireplace.

Sidewalks in Times Square which are normally crowded with vacationers on a balmy summer season Saturday night time had been overflowing as Broadway theaters canceled performances. The lights of close by Radio City Music Hall had been darkish.

In an try and cheer up prospects, the solid of the musical “Come From Away” carried out a music in entrance of the stage door. Other musicals’ solid members additionally staged street-side performances.

With visitors lights out, automobiles and taxis jammed intersections as emergency autos and fireplace engines with sirens blaring tried to go. In some locations, civilians stepped in to direct visitors, together with one who employed a toy gentle saber.

A residential constructing gentle out close to Times Square space, as a blackout impacts buildings and visitors throughout widespread energy outages within the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S, July 13, 2019. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

New York has endured large-scale blackouts earlier than, most not too long ago following Superstorm Sandy in 2012 in addition to the widespread 2003 blackout throughout the U.S. Northeast that left a lot of the metropolis with out energy for a day.

A New York blackout that crippled town throughout a warmth wave on July 13, 1977, sparked rioting and looting. Power was not restored till the following day.


Memories of the violence in the course of the 1977 blackout spooked some vacationers visiting town, together with Dave and Dara Campbell, of Gilbert, Arizona.

“People from home were texting us, asking, ‘Are you OK?’” mentioned Dara Campbell, 40.

Cuomo despatched 100 State Police officers and a few National Guard troops to assist with visitors management.

As darkness fell simply earlier than 9 p.m. (0100 GMT), individuals on the Upper West Side had to make use of their cell phone flashlights to barter usually brightly lit streets. There had been reviews of individuals trapped in constructing elevators with out energy.

Subways all through town had been affected by the outage, with some strains skipping stations that lacked energy and even strains in different boroughs diverted.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was in Iowa campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination when the outage struck, instructed CNN mentioned he had spoken with the police commissioner and the deputy commissioner answerable for counterterrorism.

“From what we’re seeing at this moment, this is simply a mechanical problem,” de Blasio mentioned.

Slideshow (18 Images)

With some stations and visitors lights darkish, many residents and guests alike took to the streets and walked, based on social media posts, a lot of which had the hashtag #blackoutnyc.

Emerging from a subway station subsequent to Central Park, Jeff O’Malley, a marketing consultant who lives in Manhattan, mentioned he was caught in a subway automobile for greater than an hour.

“We were stuck for about 75 minutes,” mentioned O’Malley, 57. “It’s completely dark. People had to use the flashlights on their phones to see their way out.”

Reporting by Maria Caspani, Robert MacMillan and Daniel Wallis, extra reporting by Frank McGurty and Conway Gittens in New York, David Morgan in Washington, writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Andrea Ricci

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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