10-hour blackouts, hospitals stop surgery as Sri Lanka crisis worsens

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Sri Lanka on Wednesday began imposing record nationwide 10-hour daily power cuts as more hospi-tals announced the suspension of routine surgeries in response to severe shortages of fuel and life-saving medicines.

The South Asian nation of 22 million people is in its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, sparked by an acute lack of foreign currency to pay for imports.

The state electricity monopoly said it was im-posing the 10-hour power cut, up from a seven-hour outage since the start of the month, because there was no oil to power thermal generators. More than 40 per cent of Sri Lanka’s electricity is generated from hydropower, but most of the res-ervoirs were running dangerously low because there had been no rains, officials said.

Most electricity production is from coal and oil. Both are imported but in short supply, as the country does not have enough foreign exchange to pay for supplies.

At least two more hospitals reported suspending routine surgeries because they were dangerously low on vital medical supplies, anaesthetics and chemicals to carry out diagnostic tests, and wanted to save them for emergency cases. —AFP

 

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