Cypriots work together to power island’s north

NICOSIA (AFP) – Greek-Cypriot authorities yesterday came to the rescue of Turkish Cypriots by supplying their breakaway state with electricity after it was plunged into darkness following an explosion at the main power plant. The Cyprus Electricity Authority (EAC) said its engineers worked overnight Wednesday to supply power to the Turkish-held north after Turkish Cypriots requested «humanitarian help» from their Greek-Cypriot neighbors across the island’s divide. Turkish-Cypriot officials said the blackout since Monday night had hit almost the whole of northern Cyprus because of the blast at the plant, which produces 120 megawatts a day, near the coastal town of Kyrenia. Under the agreement between the two sides, the south was to provide some 75 megawatts a day, they said. Power was restored early yesterday to several regions of northern Cyprus. But cuts are planned for several hours each evening until the power station is restored, the Turkish news agency Anatolia reported. In a rare show of cooperation between the rival communities, technicians worked together to reconnect the power grid. Cyprus has been divided since 1974, but the Greek-Cypriot south supplied electricity to the north – using a unified grid – up until 1996, when Turkish Cypriots were able to cater for their own power supply needs. Nevertheless, the Cyprus government had to give the green light Wednesday before work could get started. «The power lines have been inactive since 1996 and we had to get them back into shape, nothing on such a scale had been attempted before,» said EAC spokesman Costas Gavrielides. Supplies are expected to continue for the next 10 days. EAC chief Charilaos Stavrakis said the supply was on a «commercial basis» and the north would be charged with a 30-day credit limit. The bill is expected to come to between $1 million and $2 million. With the government sensitive about recognition, he said arrangements for payment would be worked out through the United Nations. Only Ankara recognizes the Turkish-held north of Cyprus, declared in 1983, nine years after Turkish troops occupied the island’s northern third in response to a Greek-Cypriot coup aimed at union with Greece.

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