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Faulty electric cable spooks weary Kaohsiung residents

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A faulty underground electric cable in a Kaohsiung neighborhood kept sending out cracking sounds, sparks and odors from the city's sewers yesterday, worrying residents that there would be a repeat of the deadly gas explosions that hit the southern city a few weeks ago.

Many residents along a lane in Kaohsiung's Lingya District said they dared not go to bed even after Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) cut off the electricity running through the cable.

The residents said the cracking sounds started coming out from the sewers at noon on Friday.

The city's “1999” public service hotline received numerous complaints about the situation, but the source of the problem was not identified until late Friday night.

Taipower then cut off the power supply to the area, and the residents were left without electricity for hours until a temporary power line was installed.

Taipower said repair work on the underground cable will not begin until tomorrow.

But Taipower maintained that the cable in question was a low-voltage line for household use, rather than the high-voltage variety. It was short-circuited by moisture and had been burned, but this would not result in an explosion, the company said.

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