TEXT OF STORY
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah continues and for the first time now spans the entire length of Lebanon. Meanwhile that country is facing a serious electricity crisis. An Israeli attack destroyed the storage tanks for much of Lebanon’s fuel for electrical power plants, and two ships waiting in Cyprus with 80,000 gallons of fuel oil and gas are refusing to deliver their shipments, fearful of an Israeli attack. Ben Gilbert reports from Beirut.
BEN GILBERT: Residents of Beirut used to have 24 hours electricity, but not any more. Ten to 15 hours of power is all they’re getting now.
On the streets, the power cuts are evident everywhere. Generators rumble on every city block, spewing carbon dioxide into the already humid city streets.
Minister of Transportation Mohammad Safadi says the country’s meager supply of fuel for electricity is alarming.
MOHAMMAD SAFADI: “So today, as a guess, it depends on how many hours now we have electricity from these generators. Maybe a week, maybe less . . .maybe a bit more.”
Safadi says the power cuts have left much of southern Lebanon in the dark. He says some power is coming over the lines from Syria, but that won’t be enough to support vital services, like hospitals if the fuel runs out.
SAFADI: “So some hospitals might suffer severely because of that and have to shut down. They hardly have got electricity in the areas they are. And if they don’t have fuel for generators then can’t run hospitals any more.”
The World Health Organization has warned that up to 60 percent of Lebanon’s hospitals will have to shut down if the fuel does not arrive soon.
In Beirut, I’m Ben Gilbert for Marketplace.
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