Updated Wednesday 6.30am

A fault in one of the generating units of Delimara power station caused a nationwide power cut this evening (Tuesday). An explosion took place at the same time at a distribution centre near Marsa Industrial Estate.

No one was injured but the explosion produced a fire and thick black smoke. Extensive damage was caused.Enemalta reported the fire extinguished at 11.15pm

Cars provide some lighting for an open air restaurant in Bugibba. Photo - Mark Zammit CordinaCars provide some lighting for an open air restaurant in Bugibba. Photo - Mark Zammit Cordina

Power was lost across Malta and Gozo at 7.50pm, setting off burglar alarms as lights and air conditioners went off - as did the street decorations in the towns and villages preparing to celebrate the feast of Sta Marija. Some traffic junctions became dangerous as traffic lights went off.

Malta International Airport was forced to temporarily close all activity within the airport as a safety precaution as the runway was closed.

Flights diverted to Catania included Vueling flight VY 8744 from Barcelona, Norwegian flight DY 6530 from Copenhagen, Airmalta flight KM 4293 from Glasgow, and Ryanair flight FR 9874 from Bari.

Operations at the airport have now resumed as normal.

Supply started being restored to some areas at 8.50pm. But power was lost again at 10.40pm. It was restored to most areas by 1.30am today except for areas connected to the distribution centre at Marsa, where works were still underway.

These include parts of Birzebbuga, Corradino, Floriana, Hal Farrug, Luqa, Marsa (including factories), Qormi, Siggiewi, Tarxien, Valletta and Zebbug.

A number of readers reported problems with their telephone and internet service.

Many people went out as soon as power was lost, crowding the promenades.  Restaurants with generators had brisk business and one restaurant in Bugibba was seen cooking meals over a large barbeque.

Other people cooled off on their roofs and, with power still not back again till late,  some opted to sleep there - under a full moon and the annual meteor shower.

At Grand Harbour, a ceremony marking the arrival of the Sta Marija convoy of 1942 continued -- the power failure recalled the wartime blackout, someone said sarcastically. Power for the sound system was provided by a patrol boat.

Many localities had their power restored for the second time by midnight. 

Picture - Karl Cilia - mynews@timesofmalta.comPicture - Karl Cilia - mynews@timesofmalta.com

A spokesman for Enemalta said that the reason for the power station generator fault was being investigated as engineers worked to restore power as soon as possible.

Police investigations are now underway and Enemalta has also launched internal inquiries to identify the cause of the explosion at the distribution centre and the supply disruption, assess the damages caused and identify measures that may need to be implemented to avoid similar difficulties in the future.

Enemalta thanked its employees, the police, the Civil Protection Department and employees and officials from several other entities who worked throughout the night to respond to the emergency and restore electricity supply in the shortest time possible. It also thanked customers and the public for their support.

Malta last suffered a nation-wide power cut on January 9 because of a Delimara power station fault.

Daniel Cilia took this picture of the star-lit light as the moon rose over Birkirkara with electricity lights off at about 9.30pm.The Basilica was still lit from the inside at the start of celebrations of the feast of St Helen.Daniel Cilia took this picture of the star-lit light as the moon rose over Birkirkara with electricity lights off at about 9.30pm.The Basilica was still lit from the inside at the start of celebrations of the feast of St Helen.

A slow shutter shot of a street in Iklin during the blackout, using car lights and the full moon. Picture - Simon Scicluna - mynews@timesofmalta.comA slow shutter shot of a street in Iklin during the blackout, using car lights and the full moon. Picture - Simon Scicluna - mynews@timesofmalta.com