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Monday, May 3, 1999 Published at 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK

Switch on just one light - Serbs told

A candlelit ward in a Belgrade hospital

Serbs have been advised to conserve electricity supplies following the widespread disruption caused by Nato's attack on Yugoslavia's power system.

Kosovo: Special Report
Serbia's electricity company EPS announced on Monday morning that the electricity supply had been reconnected to most towns after much of the country was blacked out overnight.

But EPS appealed to Yugoslavs to economise on their electricity consumption.

"Citizens are advised to switch off all electric appliances that use up a lot of electricity, and to leave on just one electric bulb, as that will enable the voltage levels to rise in the Serbian energy system," EPS said, quoted by the independent Belgrade-based news agency, Beta.

[ image: The scene in Belgrade last night shortly before power was lost]
The scene in Belgrade last night shortly before power was lost
In Belgrade, electricity was restored to several hospitals, including the Dragisa Misovic hospital, the city hospital, the Zemun hospital and a maternity clinic.

EPS said its teams were trying to restore power to Belgrade bakeries and the city's water supply.

Beta reported that trolleybuses were running in central Belgrade on Monday morning and traffic lights were working, but "none of the buildings have electricity".

Outside the city centre traffic lights were generally not working, except at major intersections, and traffic was significantly lighter than before the weekend and the 1 May holiday.

Many shops were still closed at 0800 gmt, and while some restaurants were open "the customers could only choose between soft drinks and those that are served at room temperature".

"We have neither water nor electricity," complained a restaurant waitress quoted by Beta. In a nearby bar people were drinking coffee cooked on a gas ring.

Beta quoted Momcilo Cebalovic, spokesman for the Serbian power industry, as saying Nato had launched an attack with "special substances that caused a short-circuit of the Serbian power industry's high-voltage grid at 2145 (1945 gmt), which led to the collapse of the republic's power system" .

Eyewitnesses told Beta that a distributor near the Obrenovac power plant was hit by Nato, though the plant itself was not hit.

Cacak, Kraljevo, Bor and some other towns were able to receive electricity from their own small generating installations.

Hospitals 'a priority'

Beta said Belgrade hospitals switched over to generators during the power cut and their work continued as usual.

"We have overcome the acute situation," said Doctor Vladimir Paunovic, quoted by Beta.

[ image: Many non-essential areas are without power]
Many non-essential areas are without power
Mr Cebalovic said hospitals were the priority for electricity supplies, followed by the waterworks and bakeries.

Some 30% of Belgrade consumers started receiving electricity again by 0230 gmt.

Serbian RTS TV via satellite was knocked off the air from 1945 gmt on Sunday until 0440 gmt on Monday, and Serbian radio broadcasts via satellite also went off the air.

"Owing to the disruption in the power supply, many viewers were unable to watch the Dnevnik III news programme of Radio and Television of Serbia [RTS] last night. We are now rebroadcasting it," the TV said at 0600 gmt.

Traffic disruption

Serbian TV on Monday reported serious traffic disruption throughout Yugoslavia due to the Nato bombing.

Traffic was completely disrupted by damage to a bridge on the Rasina river between Pojata and Krusevac in central Serbia and on the Podujevo-Pristina road bridge near Luzane in northern Kosovo.

A bridge was destroyed between Donja Bistrica and Priboj, on the border with Bosnia, as was a bridge on the Ibar river between Kraljevo and Raska in southern Serbia.

The TV said the northern city of Novi Sad was cut off for road traffic from the Srem bank of the Danube. The Smederevo-Kovin road east of Belgrade was also closed to traffic.

The TV said it was impossible to reach Kragujevac and towns on the left bank of the Zapadna Morava in central Serbia from Krusevac.

Bridges were also down between Pristina and Kosovska Mitrovica in Kosovo, and between Uzice and Nova Varos in western Serbia.

BBC Monitoring based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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