Most of Bangladesh left without power after national grid failure

DHAKA (Reuters) -Large swathes of Bangladesh were left without electricity on Tuesday after a partial grid failure, a government official said, adding that authorities were working to gradually restore power supply in the country of 168 million people.

The country's power grid malfunctioned at around 2 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Tuesday, leading to blackouts across 75-80% of the Bangladesh, Bangladesh Power Development Board official Shameem Hasan told Reuters.

"We are trying to restore the system," Hasan said, adding that utilities were currently producing around 4,500 megawatts (MW)of power, compared to nationwide demand of 14,200 MW.

An investigation is underway to ascertain the reason for the grid's collapse, Hasan said.

Bangladesh peak power demand on Tuesday was 3% higher than the 13,800 MW forecast earlier this week by the Bangladesh Power Development Board, according to government data.

"Hopefully within three hours, power supply will be restored in Dhaka," Junior Power Minister Nasrul Hamid said, referring to Bangladesh's capital city that is home to some 20 million people.

Many parts of Bangladesh have been facing frequent power cuts this year despite efforts to ration gas supplies amid high global natural gas prices.

Natural gas accounts for nearly three quarters of the country's power generation.

Over a third of the 77 gas-powered units in Bangladesh were facing a gas shortage, government data showed on Tuesday.

Power demand growth in Bangladesh in recent years has largely been driven by the residential segment, compared with industries.

(Additional reporting by Devjyot Ghoshal, Sudarshan Varadhan and Tanvi Mehta, Editing by Louise Heavens and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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