Updated 6.35pm with Enemalta statement
Blackout misery continued in parts of the country on Friday night, with various towns forced to spend the night and parts of Saturday without electricity.
Parts of Gudja, Rabat, Mdina, Dingli, Kalkara, Cospicua, Senglea, Vitttoriosa, Swieqi and Sliema all experienced prolonged power cuts, in many cases stretching through the night and into Saturday morning.
There were also reports of power cuts in various towns in Gozo, including Nadur, Marsalforn and Xagħra.
“Trying to sleep with no electricity for a third straight night. This is unbearable,” a Times of Malta reader in Rabat said.
Another reader in Swieqi said they lost power at 11.30pm and had yet to get it back by 9am. It was the second full night without electricity, following a 14-hour power cut between Thursday and Friday.
In Nadur, a reader said they were without both electricity and water, while another reader in Tignè, Sliema said they were trying to cope with a fifth consecutive day of power cuts.
"The power went off last night at about 7pm and still no reprieve 14 hours later. Summer of hell!" they wrote.
In Żebbuġ, Gozo, power went out at around midnight and had yet to return by 11am.
People in Senglea had it even worse: a resident of Triq il-Vitorja told Times of Malta that, as of 11am on Saturday, they had been without power for more than 36 hours.
"Electricity went off on Thursday night about 9:30pm and till now, we still don't have power," they said. "It is unthinkable to just imagine living without electricity in the 21st century, but the people of Senglea have been living that nighmare for 36 hours," they said.
And it was a similar story in Vittoriosa, which has been largely without power since late on Thursday.
One resident who moved to Malta just this week said they were stunned.
"My wife has medication that requires refrigeration. We didn’t expect to have to seek emergency cooling options to keep her meds safe.
"Welcome to Malta!" they exclaimed.
By noon on Saturday, residents of Vittoriosa and Rabat, among others, were complaining of power going out just minutes after being restored. By the afternoon, residents of Mtarfa and Xemxija were without power.
Enemalta reports unprecedented 52 high-voltage faults
In a statement on Saturday afternoon, Enemalta said it is "racing against time" to repair damages to its underground high-voltage cable network across Malta and Gozo.
Since Monday, the company registered 52 underground high voltage cable faults in Malta and another eight in Gozo. Enemalta engineers and technicians have already repaired more than half of them.
Several teams are working round the clock to repair all remaining faults as soon as possible. In most cases, electricity supply to customers affected by these cable faults would have already been provided through alternative cable connections in the same area.
"In other network difficulties, especially when they happen to be in the same area of a previous fault, such supply restoration may not be possible until the damaged cables are repaired. Electricity in parts of Dingli, Rabat, Mdina, Kalkara and Żabbar in Malta and Żebbug, Marsalforn, Xagħra and Nadur in Gozo will be restored as soon as ongoing cable repairs are completed, in the coming hours."
In the Rabat and Dingli areas, four different faults in two days have almost isolated these localities from the rest of the grid, making restoration of supply to customers in the area even more difficult.
Works will continue Saturday night and on Sunday, until all cables are tested and energised
Enemalta chairman Ryan Fava said the company is continuing to increase its resources to speed up repairs, without putting workers’ safety at risk.
“With such an unprecedented number of cable faults, the network becomes less resilient to other network disturbances. Therefore, we are making sure to repair many of these cables as quickly as possible, to restore the network’s flexibility and be in a better position to respond to network difficulties in a shorter timeframe. Works will continue Saturday night and on Sunday, until all cables are tested and energised,” Fava said.
An interactive map of power cuts published by Enemalta indicated that as of 9am on Saturday, power was out in Rabat, Dingli, Mdina and Ta' Qali, the entire Cottonera area and a small part of the Ta' Giorni neighbourhood in St Julian's.
However, the map appears to be unreliable, with known power cuts not included on it.
According to Enemalta, just one power cut is planned for Saturday - scheduled maintenance in a number of streets in St Julian's between 8am and 5pm.
A sixth day of power cuts
Saturday marks the sixth consecutive day of repeated power cuts, with Enemalta’s distribution system failing under the strain of high demand and soaring heatwave temperatures.
The repeated and prolonged power cuts have forced businesses to shut or dispose of thousands in defrosted food, and led to people sleeping outside or in their cars with the engine running to cope with the heat.
The financial damage continued on Friday night.
“We had to eat by candlelight,” a diner at a Rabat restaurant told Times of Malta. “Staff were very upset, because within 15 minutes everyone started paying and leaving.”
In a bid to protect senior citizens from the worst impacts of power cuts and the heatwave, the Active Ageing Ministry said on Saturday that any over 65s affected could spend the day at state-run care homes.
The ministry is organising transport to and from the homes as part of the free service.
Livestock dead, PN says
The situation was even more dire for some livestock farmers.
In a statement, the Nationalist Party said it received reports of various farm animals dying due to heat exhaustion caused by the hours-long power blackouts.
"Aside from the financial cost running into thousands of euros, this causes great suffering for the animals," the PN said. "What compensation will the government be offering these farmers?"
The government had failed to adequate plan for the population explosion experienced by the country in the past years, it said.
Enemalta CEO Jonathan Cardona said on Friday afternoon that the company has identified 42 faults along its network, with engineers working rotating shifts to ensure repairs continue throughout the day and night.
Cardona said that the situation appeared to be “improving”.
The agency has blamed high temperatures for damaging its underground cables, insisting that despite electricity demand hitting national records of over 600 megawatts, the country can tap up to 800 megawatts of energy supply should it need it.
In its statement on Saturday, Enemalta said repairing cable faults took time.
Team of workers must "locate the exact fault location along the underground cable’s route beneath local roads, excavate the location and then repair and test the damaged cable," a spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said people could report faults online, by calling 8007 2224 or by calling the Servizz.Gov Helpline 152. Customers can also subscribe to an SMS notification service by texting the account holder's ID card number to 79052492.
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