'Slight explosion' cuts homes off from electricity and gas

POWERLESS residents were left without gas and electricity after an underground cable was damaged in the Pebsham area of Bexhill.

The power went at around 11.50am on Tuesday August 10, for 18 EDF customers along College Road because of what a spokesman for the company called "third party damage" to the cable.

One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Observer she had heard a "slight explosion" just before the power went.

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"I'm very upset," she said.

"There's elderly people up here who need there electricity. We can't even have a cup of tea."

Engineers had the power back to 12 customers by 5.30pm the same day, but six others had to wait until 1.20pm on Wednesday.

James Barber, regional media manager for the EDF's south east division, admitted the damage had proved more complex than anticipated.

He appeared to blame an outside contractor for the interruption, saying: "We are committed to providing a reliable supply of electricity and, in a bid to reduce the number of power interruptions caused by contractors damaging underground cables, actively encourage any firm undertaking work to contact us in advance for advice and free cable locating maps to help them avoid our cables.

"This is vital for their own safety as well as for the security of electricity supplies.

"If there is a breakdown on our network we work hard to get the power back as quickly as possible.

"However, if it takes us more than 18 hours to restore power, customers can claim a guaranteed standard payment of 54 for a residential customer or 108 for business customers."