Turkish government still unsure of massive blackout’s cause

Turkish government still unsure of massive blackout’s cause

Turkish government still unsure of massive blackout’s cause

Cihan photo

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız has said it is “too early” to say the cause of the huge electricity blackout that left almost the whole of Turkey in darkness on March 31 was a cyber-attack, underlining that efforts are still ongoing to find its exact cause two days on.

“I spoke to five people who have been working at the Turkish Electricity Transmission Company [TEİAŞ] for 33 years. They told me that this was the first time they have ever seen something like this. It might have been due to a technical issue, but it is a huge coincidence for three huge malfunctions to happen at the same time and for the power plants to become disengaged,” Yıldız told reporters on April 2, on the sidelines of the 12th International Petrol, LPG and Technology Fair Petroleum in Istanbul

A massive power outage affected more than 76 million people in 80 out of 81 Turkish provinces for up to nine hours on March 31.

Yıldız’s latest assessment confirms daily Hürriyet’s April 1 report which said that the most likely explanation for the outage lays in “a chain of failures started when a power plant in the Aegean region suddenly stopped production.”

Along with the Aegean power plants, the Atatürk hydroelectric dam in the southeast and a power plant in the southern region of Çukurova were also shut down.

Probability: 1/86,400

“Normally, the probability of experiencing three of these problems at the same time is just one in 86,400,” Yıldız said.

“It is too early for me to say this is a ‘cyberattack’ or even ‘this is the reason why it happened.’ It is too early to say what triggered the malfunction. Is a cyberattack out of the question? No it is not. We do not know yet whether this happened due to manipulation, or whether such an unlikely coincidence could happen, or whether it was a cyberattack. It is too early to say,” he added.

The energy minister emphasized that the breakdown was not due to a lack of electricity supply, as Turkey had a higher supply than demand for the last three years. 

“In 2003 a similar blackout happened in the United States that lasted for 36 hours. I am not saying this to say ‘it happened with them, it is normal for it to happen with us,’ but these kinds of shortages can happen with facilities that are open to the atmosphere,” Yıldız said.

He added that "negative events can take place together at the same time," pointing to massive blackouts in 
Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.