India suffered the world’s biggest-ever power outage Tuesday as transmission networks serving areas inhabited by 680 million collapsed, putting the nation’s ramshackle infrastructure on stark display.
The grid failure, the second massive blackout in as many days, happened around 1 p.m. local time and affected 18 states and two union territories in north and eastern India, grinding trains across large swaths of the country to a halt, forcing thousands of hospitals and factories to operate on generators, temporarily stranding hundreds of coal miners underground and causing losses to businesses estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The government said power was about 80% restored in north India by late Tuesday evening.
Access to electricity is far from universal in India, and Indians are accustomed to regular power outages in particular neighborhoods or sections of cities. Many businesses and farmers see backup diesel-run generators as an absolute necessity.