Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Fire cuts power in Johannesburg

File picture of traffic chaos in Johannesburg - taken by  a photographer at The Star newspaper
Power cuts in the past have caused chaos at rush hour

A fire has cut electricity to around 20,000 businesses in South Africa's commercial capital, closing down half of the central business district.

The fire in a power cable tunnel under the streets of Johannesburg raged for seven hours before fire services could put it out.

Electricity company City Power says it is still too hot to get into the tunnel to repair the damage.

A spokesman said the fire could have been caused by thieves stealing cables.

The power will not be back on for several days, the company said.

Cable theft is a common cause of power cuts in South Africa.

The country has also experienced power cuts because there is not enough electricity being generated to supply expanding cities.

"We are trying to relay around the affected cable and repair connection to some customers, but it may take several days to repair the cable itself," said City Power spokesman Louis Pieterse.

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