October 26, 2001

Bullet hole may be cause of island-wide blackout

                 MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (AP) -- A bullet hole may have been a factor in a
                 four-hour island-wide power outage in Jamaica, the utility said Friday.

                 An apparent bullet hole was discovered in a principal cable after the blackout
                 Wednesday evening on the island of 2.6 million people, the Jamaica Public Service
                 Company said.

                 The hole may have weakened flow in the cable, one of the major
                 electricity-carrying lines leading out of a main plant in Kingston, the capital, the
                 statement said. It was unclear when or how the cable, exposed where it crossed a
                 gully near the plant, could have been punctured by a bullet.

                 The damaged section was turned over to police for evaluation, the utility said.

                 A flaw in a separate underground line linking the Kingston plant to an oil refinery
                 may have also been a factor.

                 Electricity was returned to Kingston and tourist areas the night of the blackout, and
                 the whole island had power by Thursday, but some areas could still have
                 intermittent outages, Friday's statement said.

                 Earlier this year, the Atlanta-based Mirant Corp. acquired an 80 percent stake in the
                 Jamaica Public Service Company. The Jamaican government retained a 20 percent

                 Many parts of Jamaica, including Kingston, some 130 kilometers (80 miles)
                 southeast of Montego Bay, have had frequent blackouts during the summer as the
                 utility struggles to keep up with demand.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.