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Blackouts shut banks, businesses, schools

People trapped in elevators; banking services stop; college application delayed


Rare power outages that struck across the nation Thursday halted businesses and hampered people’s daily activities.

The blackouts hit right before the entrance application deadline for prospective Kookmin University students, so the school plans to extend the deadline for however long the outage persists. Many other universities experienced similar situations, prompting the Korean Council for University Education to send a letter of cooperation, asking schools to extend deadlines.

“We ask that efforts be made to ensure that the blackouts have no negative effects on entrance applications, and that schools with deadlines set today extend the time for a quarter of a day to a full day.” Some 40 universities throughout the nation have deadlines set for today.

Banking services in several Seoul locations, including in Seocho, Yeouido and Songpa, halted operations, as of 4 p.m.

“Neighborhood residents are running out of their homes to figure out what is happening,” one Seoul resident said, as quoted by other news agencies.

“I’m talking to my friend who is at a bank, and he said they had stopped business,” she said.

Hospitals throughout the country have also lost power potentially causing problems, but hospitals have confirmed that no significant damage was done.

The capital saw a staggering 100 reports of citizens trapped in elevators without power, during a hour in the afternoon, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters.

“We are dispatching officers to handle the situations. The reports are continuously coming in,” said a city official, whose name was undisclosed to the media.

Reports on twitter continued to fly in of businesses without power and down traffic lights, a similar situation when the torrential downpours last June put the nation at a standstill.
Traffic lights are off at an intersection in central Seoul on Thursday afternoon, due to a nationwide power outage. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
Traffic lights are off at an intersection in central Seoul on Thursday afternoon, due to a nationwide power outage. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
A man is taken out of an elevator by rescue workers after being trapped inside due to the power outage in Suwon on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
A man is taken out of an elevator by rescue workers after being trapped inside due to the power outage in Suwon on Thursday. (Yonhap News)

Netizens tweeted reports of individuals trapped in elevators, and streets and businesses without power.

Incheon also experienced mass power outages, cutting electricity to traffic lights in some 73 intersections in the satellite city.

According to the Gyeonggi Province Fire & Disaster Management Headquarters, there were some 100 reports of citizens trapped inside elevators that lost power.

At least 20,000 residents in Gangwon Province simultaneously lost power, cutting lights to schools, businesses and other operations.

“We are experiencing some difficulties working, as phones and computers are unexpectedly down,” said one elementary school principal in the province.

Ulsan was flooded with so many reports of citizens trapped in elevators and down traffic lights that officials did not have the means to respond to all the cases in timely manner.

“We currently do not have sufficient manpower to handle the situation,” said a Ulsan Fire Department official.

The Daegu Metropolitan City saw power cut to some 110 traffic lights causing chaos, and dozens of reports about people trapped in elevators.

Citizens also saw suspended cell phone services all over the country as the blackouts also hit transmission towers.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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