Problems with the power grid in Balkan countries caused a widespread electricity blackout in northern Greece yesterday as the country continues to swelter in temperatures above 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). Northern Greece’s Meliti and Amintaio power units went off-line due to the collapse of plants on the same grid in neighboring countries. «The collapse of the electrical energy system of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Kosovo and Montenegro created a problem with our system due to the link between the Greek-FYROM system,» said Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas. Greece’s electricity energy network has been hooked up to its neighbors in recent years as the countries often trade power. During the very warm summer months, Greece imports electricity – usually from Bulgaria – in a bid to help meet soaring demand. «A safety system went into immediate operation and the necessary power cuts were made to the order of 1,000 megawatts,» added Sioufas. Parts of Thessaloniki along with areas in Kilkis, Halkidiki, Imathia and Pieria were left without power for a number of hours while firefighters received some 40 calls for help from people trapped in elevators in the country’s second-largest city. The hot weather is expected to continue today, reaching as high as 45C (113F) in Athens and other parts of central Greece, such as Larissa and Lamia. A Health Ministry source said yesterday that a 75-year-old man died from heatstroke on the island of Corfu, while nine others have been treated for heat-related health problems. Seven of these have been kept in the hospital for monitoring. Pollution levels in the capital also hit dangerous highs due to the heat. The level of large pollution particles in the air or PM10 emissions in Nea Smyrni, southern Athens, reached 320 mg/m3, surpassing the 240 mg/m3 safety level. High levels of particle emissions, blamed for cancer and respiratory problems, were also recorded in central and western Athens. Relief from the hot weather is expected this evening. According to forecasts, a northerly wind will also help cool down the country as of tomorrow.