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Over 21,000 without power in Belgium after River Meuse bursts banks


Devastating floods claim dozens of lives

19 Ores-supplied municipalities affected

Elia substation severely damaged

Over 21,000 people in the southern Belgian region of Wallonia remain without power after devastating floods caused the River Meuse to burst its banks, local distributor Ores said July 16.

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The worst of the flooding in Belgium seems to be over but the Pepinster high voltage substation in the province of Liege has been severely damaged and remains inaccessible, system operator Elia told S&P Global Platts.

"For the moment 300 distribution booths are flooded and it is impossible for our teams to access them," Ores said July 16.

"At the moment more than 21,000 people are without electricity," the distributor said.

Ores said the situation "remains extremely complicated", listing 19 municipalities that were particularly affected across its network region.

At high voltage level, the Pepinster substation at the confluence of the Vesdre and Heogne rivers "is severely damaged and we have not been able to enter the site because it is too dangerous," Elia spokesperson Marleen Vanhecke said.

The transmission system operator hoped to gain access to the site July 16, "but from a distance we can already see there is a lot of damage," Vanhecke said.

Supply had been partially restored with the help of the local distributor, "but we already know it will take a long time before the substation can be completely restored so we are now looking at options, including [use of mobile] transformers," she said.

Elia engineers meanwhile had managed to access the substation at On, near Rochefort, and a partial restoration of connection was anticipated this afternoon, Vanhecke said.

"For the rest, all our substations are OK. Some were flooded but precautions prevented disruption. If you look at Belgium in general, however, the crisis is at the level of the distribution companies," she said.