German authorities believe a massive blackout that temporarily paralyzed a large city Monday was caused by a metal foil balloon.
The small balloon apparently floated onto an electricity substation in the eastern city of Dresden around 2 p.m., causing an outage that left hospitals, factories, trams and some 300,000 homes without power. The abrupt blackout also trapped dozens of people in elevators until electricity was restored about an hour later.
Police are now trying to find the person who released the balloon to determine whether there was any criminal intent. “We are currently working on the assumption that at best it was careless, or simply a coincidence,” said Thomas Geithner, a spokesman for Dresden police.Police spokesman Thomas Geithner shows the remains of the metal foil of a balloon during a press conference in Dresden, Germany, Tuesday.
He also said it doesn’t appear it was a politically motivated attack because no one has claimed responsibility. “But we can’t rule it out 100% either,” Geithner said. Claudius Rokosch, a spokesman for utility company SachsenEnergie, said the charred balloon featured a clear warning not to fly it near electrical wires.
The large-scale blackout also affected traffic lights and caused false fire alarms. The hospitals affected were able to use generators during the outage.