UC Berkeley campus evacuated; at least one explosion confirmed after power outage


credit: dailycal.org

SOURCE – (BERKELEY) At least person was hospitalized and a mandatory evacuation was ordered on the UC Berkeley campus Monday after an explosion followed a campus wide power outage, officials said.

The outage, first reported at 4:45 p.m., appears to have been caused by an attempted copper theft in underground facilities near the Lawrence Hall of Science in the hills area of the campus, officials said.

About 90 minutes later, at 6:30 p.m., an explosion was reported near California Hall. It is unclear if the explosion was caused by the power outage, said Christine Shaff, communications director for facility services, who was near the explosion when it happened.

“It was a fireball,” she said of the explosion.

Image of smoke from explosion tweeted by Kohar Minassian. (Kohar Minassian)

An official Twitter account operated by the Office of Public Affairs said only that the power outage and explosion were caused by a “system failure.”

A few people suffered minor injuries, including one person who was hospitalized, according to campus spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Berkeley Acting Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said firefighters, campus police and campus engineers were working to free students trapped in elevators. Webb said fire crews also responded to Latimer Hall, a building housing chemistry classes, where there was a report of ammonia leaking.

Power Blackouts Hit Nearly Half of Venezuela


(AP)  A power outage hit nearly half of Venezuela on Tuesday, knocking out traffic lights and causing chaos in the streets of Caracas.

Deputy Energy Minister Franco Silva said failures on several transmission lines were to blame for the blackout and told state TV that nine of Venezuela’s 23 states were affected.

Venezuelans have been struggling with worsening blackouts for several years, but the capital is almost always spared.

President Nicolas Maduro said the oil industry, the lifeblood of the economy, was not affected by the outage.

The capital’s subway service was temporarily interrupted, and authorities evacuated riders from several trains.

Opposition politicians say the government hasn’t invested enough in the electrical grid and generating plants to keep up with growing demand.

Authorities say delays in several initiatives designed to boost electricity output are partly to blame. But they also have often suggested that government foes sabotaged the grid, and Maduro raised that as a possibility for Tuesday’s blackout.