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Dublin: 8 °C Sunday 21 December, 2014

In Pictures: Ten year anniversary of north America’s electricity blackout

Ten years ago today, an electricity power outage caused chaos in the northern American states and Canada.

The Empire State Building towers over the skyline of a blackout-darkened New York City
The Empire State Building towers over the skyline of a blackout-darkened New York City
Image: (AP Photo/File, George Widman, File)

ON AUGUST 14 2003, an electricity outage caused by a tree branch in Ohio plunged more than 50 million people in North America and Canada into darkness.

It was the largest power outage in America’s history. Commuters in New York City and elsewhere had to sleep on steps, hitchhike or walk home as trains were rendered powerless and gas pumps stopped working, food spoiled as refrigerators and freezers thawed, water sold out as supply plants lost their ability to supply consumers and people were fearful it was a terrorist attack as it was just two years after 9/11.

Here are some pictures of the power outage:

In Pictures: Ten year anniversary of north America’s electricity blackout
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  • Blackout Anniversary

    The Empire State Building towers over the skyline of a blackout-darkened New York City just before dawn. (AP Photo/File, George Widman, File)
  • Blackout Anniversary

    A stranded traveler sleeps in the baggage claim area at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Ten years after a blackout cascading from Ohio affected 50 million people, utilities and analysts say changes made in the aftermath make a similar outage unlikely today, though shifts in where and how power is generated raise new reliability concerns for the U.S. electric grid system. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
  • Blackout Anniversary

    Cars try to navigate their way through New York City during a blackout that hit U.S. and Canadian cities. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
  • Blackout Anniversary

    The city of Cleveland sits in the dark except for emergency lights in the Federal Courthouse, left, and the SBC building, far right, after a massive power outage struck the eastern United States and parts of Canada. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
  • Blackout Anniversary

    Thousands of commuters wait for a chance to board a ferry from Manhattan to the New Jersey side of the Hudson River in New York, after a massive blackout shut down trains and subway lines. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
  • Blackout Anniversary

    Commuters sleep on the steps of the Central Post Office in New York after being stranded following a massive electrical blackout. (AP Photo/ Mike Appleton, File)
  • Blackout Anniversary

    Customers line up outside of the Dallas Food Market to buy goods in Detroit, Mich(AP Photo/Paul Warner, File)

Were you there at the time? Tell us about it in the comments section.

- additional reporting AP

ESB: Keep kids away from disused buildings and from climbing pylons>

21,000 had gas or electricity cut for not paying bills>

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