Power restored in Dutch capital Amsterdam after cut causes airline chaos

THE HAGUE (AFP) - A massive power cut caused chaos in and around the Dutch capital Amsterdam on Friday, including temporarily halting all flights at Schiphol International Airport, an airport spokesman and news reports said.

"Normal electricity supply has been restored and we are slowly starting up, but there are still a number of inbound flights being diverted," an airport spokesman, who declined to be named told AFP.

"We don't know how long the delay will be and we suggest passengers contact individual airlines where their flights have been booked," another Schiphol spokesman Jeroen Bos told the NOS public broadcaster. An airport official told AFP that planes have started to depart from the airport.

Earlier on Friday, Schiphol switched to emergency power and all in and outbound flights were diverted to airports in Belgium and Germany. Schiphol is a major transport hub with more than 50 million passengers passing through every year.

The Dutch capital of Amsterdam also ground to a halt, with rail and tram transport severely disrupted, stranding thousands of commuters.

Hospitals in the capital and the densely populated North Holland province also changed to emergency power, news reports said.

Television pictures showed dead traffic lights and trams stopped in the middle of busy roads with pedestrians, cyclists and cars slowly passing by.

By noon, much of the power cut had been restored, the Dutch news agency ANP reported.

The massive powercut was set off at around 9.45am during work at an electricity substation at Diemen, south-east of Amsterdam, a spokesman for the Tennet electricity supplier said.

"We have restored high-tension lines and the electricity supply is coming back," Mr Jeroen Brouwers told the NOS public broadcaster.

"But a problem in the high-tension network is felt right to the smallest capillaries of the Dutch electricity network," Mr Brouwers added.

North Holland is one of the Netherlands' most populous provinces, with a population of more than 2.7 million people, many living in Amsterdam.

Power cuts are rare in the Netherlands, which famed for its reliable infrastructure.