August 13, 2006

Power outage hits large areas of Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) - A rare power outage caused by an
industrial accident affected large areas of Tokyo for about two
hours on Monday, darkening homes and offices, trapping people
in elevators and disrupting transport and computer systems.

The outage, caused when a construction crane on a tugboat
hit a power line, started around 7:40 a.m. (2240 GMT on Sunday)
as offices were opening and commuters were heading for work.

Power supplies were restored by midmorning and most rail
services returned to normal.

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc., which serves
an area with a population of more than 30 million, said about
800,000 homes were affected.

Traffic lights went dark in at least 260 places, Kyodo news
service said, while several businesses reported problems with
computer systems.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange was trading as usual, but foreign
exchange traders at several banks said they were unable to
conduct business because of computer problems.

The operators of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea said
the outages had forced them to delay opening their gates for
about an hour.

"Most attractions did not work because of the power
outage," an official said, adding that the attractions were
expecting 100,000 people to attend on Monday. "In my memory we
have never had this before."

Some Tokyo subway lines temporarily allowed men to ride in
special "women-only" cars to ease crowding after service
resumed. The special cars were introduced to spare women the
aggravation of harassment from male passengers.