Enemalta engineers dealt with an "unprecedented" 42 electrical faults over four days, its CEO said on Friday as he insists the situation "appears to be improving".

Jonathan Cardona was speaking at a technical briefing after Malta endured five days of power cuts that the state energy company is blaming on high temperatures damaging underground cables. 

People have had to sleep outdoors, shops have been forced to discard food, businesses have shut and there was panic at Mount Carmel mental health hospital as it was plunged into darkness for hours. 

The Nationalist Party has called on Energy Minister Miriam Dalli to resign and asked for parliament to be reconvened on Saturday. 

However, Cardona said that there have only been three faults since midnight, indicating that the crisis could be nearing an end. 

It appears that the situation has “calmed down,” he said, although it is difficult to predict. “It looks like things are normalising. The challenge is to reduce the waiting time when faults occur”.  

Kalkara,  Żabbar and the Cottonera are the main problem areas at the moment.

Of the 42 faults, some 22 are still being repaired, 12 of which are "works in progress", he said.   

There was an “abnormal” increase of 8% in the peak load, while demand is hovering around the 600 megawatt range, slightly below Thursday's record.

Cardona said that some 80 workers are rotating on shifts to provide a 24 hour operation as it takes around 24 hours to repair each fault. Asked about alleged attacks on workers, Cardona said no official reports have been filed internally. 

"We have no reason to doubt the union though", he said of the claims made by the General Workers Union. 

Compensation 'over and above' damaged assets

Energy Minister Miriam Dalli, who was also at the briefing, said on calls for her resignation: "My focus is on addressing this challenge".

Questioned on compensation, she said her main priority is addressing the challenges and further options for compensation will be tackled later.

Those “options” will be over and above the fixed asset damage compensation already offered by Enemalta, for people who spent “a number of hours” without power supply, she said.  

She described the situation as "challenging" and said that she "cannot exclude further consequences from the heatwave".

Asked about the PN’s crisis claims, she said the departure point was fixing the “disaster” left by the PN and that investment efforts are under way to improve the distribution network.  

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