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Kosovo power situation termed critical as temperatures plunge

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Pristina (dpa) - Chronic electrical brownouts and blackouts have created a critical power situation in Kosovo, U.N. officials warned Friday, saying refugees were bearing the brunt of the problem.

U.N. relief officials were bringing in 30,000 blankets and 63,500 insulated sleeping bags along with 380,000 children's thermal winter jackets, said U.N. spokesman Peter Kessler in Pristina.

''It is not yet a humanitarian catastrophe, but we are facing now a serious power shortage,'' said Kessler. He added that the children and the elderly are most at risk.

Only one unit of the two Kosovo power plants was working Friday, producing only 110 megawatts. Another 101 megawatts is being imported from outside Kosovo. That means power in urban areas is available only eight hours a day, in a rotation, two hours on and four hours off. In many areas, however, no power is available whatsoever, a U.N. official said.

The situation reached the crisis point Monday following a power station fire, as winter set in with a vengeance.

The fire broke out in one of the two Kosovo B power plants in the town of Obilic Monday night. It resulted in emergency rationing of power. dpa al eg

AP-NY-01-14-00 1017EST

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