Type to search

Power Returning to Central Asia After Massive Blackout

Accident left millions in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan without electricity, idling trains, disrupting flights and halting apartment lifts

central asia blackout
People cross a street after an accident at a crossing with blacked-out traffic lights in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: AFP.


Power was trickling back to three Central Asian countries on Tuesday after one of the biggest blackouts in the grid-sharing region’s history.

An electricity grid accident left millions of people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan without power, idling subway trains, disrupting flights and trapping people in lifts.

Power was all but fully restored across Kyrgyzstan by late afternoon, the country’s energy ministry said.

“Electricity supplies have been restored all over Kyrgyzstan after a large-scale power failure,” a ministry spokeswoman, Jiyde Zootbekova, told AFP.

Uzbekistan’s energy ministry said that “the supply of electricity to the regions of the country is now gradually being restored”.

An AFP correspondent said that electricity had returned to his apartment in central Tashkent.

Correspondents in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, said electricity had returned to the economic hub, although it was not immediately clear if other cities in the vast country’s southern regions had received power again.


Extended into Provinces

Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan, part of a different grid, was not affected by the outage. The power cuts hit close to lunchtime, with media and officials reporting that the blackouts had extended far into the provinces of the three countries.

Uzbekistan’s energy ministry said in a statement that the power outage had been triggered by a “major accident” in Kazakhstan’s power grid.

At the main airport in Tashkent, a city of more than two million people, flights were interrupted for several hours but have now resumed.

At a ski resort close to Tashkent, videos shared on the Telegram messaging service appeared to show skiers stuck on chair lifts.

Municipal authorities in the Kyrgyz capital said they had evacuated 45 people from lifts in apartment blocks.

Central Asian countries have seen their grids burdened by a summer drought that affected hydropower capacity in Kyrgyzstan and by a boom in energy-hungry cryptocurrency mining in the region, especially in Kazakhstan.

The growth of cryptocurrency mining in Kazakhstan was linked in part to a de facto ban on the practice in next-door China, and a spike in prices for volatile cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in the second half of last year.

Southern Kazakhstan, which traditionally endures energy deficits and relies on supplies from the electricity-rich north of the country, was especially affected by the influx of cryptocurrency miners.


  • AFP, with additional editing by George Russell




China Power Generators Told to Stockpile Coal to Avert More Blackouts


Kazakhstan Unrest Slashes Bitcoin Mining Operations


Turkmenistan says China gas pipeline debt has been paid in full




George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


AF China Bond