(AP) Shops were closed and hospitals ran on generators Wednesday in a Philippine province that was plunged into darkness when the national power grid operator stopped its supply due to unpaid debts.
The Albay provincial governor, whose own office was cut off, promised power would be restored this week. The Department of Energy said a disconnection notice was served to the Albay Electric Cooperative because it failed to settle a debt of nearly 4 billion pesos ($93 million) over 15 years.
The blackout that started Tuesday surprised residents in the central Philippine province with 1.2 million people.
"It's really dark at night. Since it is also rainy here, it is like during a typhoon," said health insurance company employee Cristie Recebido.
She said shops in the provincial capital Legazpi closed early and hospitals and offices were running on generators.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said he was worried about the economic impact. Albay is an agricultural province and the country's largest source of geothermal power. The active Mayon volcano overlooking Legazpi is one of the region's top tourist attractions.
Salceda said that the Energy Department laid down two conditions for restoring electricity, including keeping the top 100 non-paying customers most of them business establishments off the grid and putting in place a rehabilitation plan to pay off the debt.