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Thousands of homes still without electricity in Kainuu

Over 5,000 households in the region of Kainuu suffered from ongoing power outages on Saturday, with more snow in the forecast for overnight.

Lumista metsää helikoptreista kuvattuna.
Image: Elisa Kinnunen / Yle

Some 5,500 homes in the Kainuu region of Finland were without power on Saturday due to downed power lines. The local power company Loiste Sähköverkko says the municipality of Suomussalmi is worst affected, as over 2,000 households have fallen prey to the blackout.

The company told an Yle reporter that it has recruited more powerline technicians from southern Finland to help restore power to all the homes and businesses in the area.

Kainuu Rescue Services director Anssi Parviainen says 140 lineworkers, 28 snowmobiles, 6 excavators and 6 all-terrain tracked vehicles on loan from the Finnish Defence Forces are already working to repair the damage.

"Our first priority is to make sure that people are able to make contact with emergency services if necessary, and that the authorities' radio connections are functioning," he says.

Parviainen says the goal was to restore power to all about 1,000 homes by nightfall, but his pessimistic estimate is that up to 4,000 homes may still be without power before the day is out.

No evacuations yet

The Kainuu Rescue Services director says no one has been evacuated from the area yet, although preparations have been made for emergency shelters if the situation continues.

"The weather is getting colder and we still don't know how it will affect things. The question is whether it will increase or decrease the electricity distribution problems. If buildings without power start to get too cold, then we are going to have to start moving people to different locations," Parviainen says.

He says that most of the region's residents have managed quite well, considering that some of them have been without power for several days. The Finnish Red Cross has been active in the region, distributing power generators, warm blankets and water canisters.

"We've received messages from people that they are getting by okay. They say 'we've been through power cuts before and the phone lines haven't always worked in the past, either'," Parviainen says.

Things have been more complicated for the area's farmers, however, as many in locations without enough generators have had to milk their dairy cows by hand, for example.

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