Taoyuan in Taiwan was hit by its worst power outage since 1999 on Tuesday, which cut output at many factories. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Foxy1219

A massive power outage in Taiwan on Tuesday, triggered by a human error at CPC Corporation and lasting five to six hours, was the worst blackout since the Jiji earthquake in 1999. Officials received dozens of reports of 100 people trapped in elevators in Taoyuan City.

A mother with her three-year-old daughter told the media they had almost suffocated while trapped inside a hot elevator, the real daily reported.

Preliminary investigation suggested six units from Datan Power Plant run by the Taiwan Power Company developed a fault due to a sudden halt in the supply of natural gas by CPC Corporation. This caused a significant drop of four million kilowatts of electricity.

Economic losses from the massive power outage that swept across Taiwan on Tuesday would amount to NT$40 million (US$1.32 million), the Department of Economic Development said in Taoyuan.

Taoyuan, the municipality with the highest value of industrial output, was worst hit. Areas affected included the Environmental Science and Technology Park (NT$5 million), Zhongli district ($4.3 million), Guishan district ($1.4 million), Guanyin district ($7.5 million), Dayuan district ($2.5 million), Pingzhen district ($6.78 million), Youth Industrial Park ($3.6 million) and Linkou Industrial Parks ($1 million).

Factories could face bankruptcy if production is unable to meet due delivery dates promised in supply contracts.

Lawmakers have urged Taiwan Power Company to admit responsibility and said the municipal government should come up with contingency plans for disasters, be they natural or man-made incidents, to safeguard citizens’ safety and welfare.