Cars on dark streets

 WILLEMSTAD--Monday’s island-wide electricity outage due to a transformer fire at Curaçao Refinery Utilities (CRU) on the Isla refinery grounds ended up lasting over thirteen hours.

  Power went off throughout the Dutch Caribbean country at 10:15am and started being restored only about 11:30pm. Government-owned water and energy company Aqualectra initially announced electricity would be back between 4:00pm and 6:00pm, but that turned out not to be the case.

  Most companies, government services, schools and shops closed early. Even a few with generators found it difficult to keep operating if they depended on others, such as Customs.

  However, especially restaurants, fast-food outlets and other business offering free WiFi, such as megamall Sambil did very well. Internet services, radio- and television stations mostly stayed on.

  Traffic in the larger Willemstad was at first chaotic because the traffic lights stopped working. During the peak lunch hour police directed traffic around busy intersections, while at night they intensified patrols in dark neighbourhoods.

  In the evening, many could be seen outside their homes to escape the heat, while some chose to sit in their air-conditioned vehicles with the engine turned on or went for drives.

  The last district was not reconnected to the power grid until 3:00am on Tuesday. CRU and the refinery holding “Refineria Korsou” under which it falls are investigating how a short circuit could have led to such far-reaching consequences.

  While Hato-airport has a generator, the situation became difficult. The air-conditioning was not working, nor were two payment terminals at the parking lot and escalator, although those in the arrival hall were. However, no flights had to be delayed, rerouted or cancelled.

  There was no school on Tuesday because of the uncertainty Monday evening, with tests to be rescheduled. Some telecommunications issues also still occurred Tuesday morning.

  The last time the island suffered a full-fledged blackout was in 2006.