Malta suffers second nationwide power cut in a month

VALLETTA (Reuters) - Malta suffered a nation-wide power cut on Monday, the second in less than a month, shutting off electricity to all homes, businesses and factories and causing rush-hour road chaos as traffic lights went dark.

State-owned energy provider Enemalta confirmed that there was no power anywhere on Malta and said a problem with a cable supplying power from Sicily to Malta appeared to be the cause.

Power was lost shortly after 8am (0700 GMT) and began being restored in parts of the island shortly after 11am.

Another recent power outage, on Nov. 26, was also caused by a fault in the Sicily-to-Malta undersea cable.

Malta's own power stations have enough capacity to meet demand, but Enemalta usually relies on most of its supply from Sicily because it is cheaper. Turning on power generators when the undersea cable fails takes several hours.

The latest blackout, two days before Christmas, left shopkeepers unable to operate credit card machines and, in some cases, they were not even able to open their shop shutters. Malta airport said it was operating normally, using generators.

(Reporting by Christopher Scicluna, editing by Ed Osmond)

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