A blaze at a construction site left tens of thousands of households in the German city of Munich without electricity for around a day. Now, the police suspect that it might have been an arson committed on political grounds.
A Munich criminal police department specializing in “political crimes” has taken over the investigation of a major blaze that led to a power outage in the Bavarian capital on Friday morning.
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The electricity went out in some 20,000 households following a fire at a small construction site that destroyed around 50 medium-voltage power cables and disrupted the work of some 150 transformer stations in several city districts.
“If the supply lines are on fire, there may be political motives,” a police spokesman said on Saturday without providing any further details about the investigation. “At this point in time, we cannot provide any information as to whether there are any connections with other offenses,” he said, adding that the police are still at an early stage of the investigation.
Some witnesses said they heard a loud crackling sound and then a bang from the pit before it burst into flames. When a fire brigade arrived at the scene the blaze was raging from the site.
Ein #Kabelbrand verursacht in den Stadtteilen #Haidhausen, #Ramersdorf und #BergamLaim für viele Haushalte einen Stromausfall.
Ganzer Bericht: https://t.co/dFz2lIJ1zy#wirfuerMuenchen pic.twitter.com/jIH2C6wtlF
— Feuerwehr München (@BFMuenchen) May 21, 2021
The incident disrupted the work of several companies since their employees could not work from home. Local restaurants and groceries had problems with supplies as their freezers thawed and some pharmacies could not distribute Covid-19 tests and had to throw away some medicines because their storage requirements were not met.
Traffic in the city was disrupted as well. Trams did not run and the traffic lights did not work. The total damage caused by the incident is still unknown. A local utilities company said that all households were reconnected to the power grid by early afternoon on Saturday.
It is not the first suspected arson attack on infrastructure in Munich. Last year, the police reported what they called a “series” of similar incidents, in which radio masts and various infrastructure facilities were set on fire. Since November 2019, when the first such suspected attacks were recorded, the total damage caused by such incidents has grown to €3.6 million ($4.39 million).
The police linked the incidents to some left-wing extremists but failed to obtain any relevant information that would lead to any suspects. The investigations have since been discontinued.
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