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Zimbabwe Power Outages Said To Cause Five Deaths At Hospital In Harare

Persistent electric power outages across Zimbabwe are having deadly consequences: in Harare at least five patients have died at Parirenyatwa Hospital due to a lack of electricity to run essential medical equipment, hospital sources say.

Medical sources at the hospital said five patients requiring emergency surgery died when the hospital was without power Tuesday for 12 hours - one a pregnant woman.

Hospital doctors speaking on condition they not be named said the hospital generator did not provide enough power for surgeons to operate on all patients needing care.

The hospital sources said that although power has been restored, Parirenyatwa, one of the capital's main public hospitals, faces power cuts of two to three hours daily.

Staff at the private Avenues and West End clinics said those institutions have been deprived of electricity for more than a week. Generators have provided some power, but the staff said some medical procedures have had to be suspended.

Meanwhile, residents of Avondale, the Avenues area and Cranborne Park in Harare said they have been without electricity for nearly 10 days. Some said they have been forced to move out of their homes or to empty their refrigerators.

In Mutare, Bulawayo and other cities, residents report that they are have electricity for only two hours a day - usually in the middle of the night. In some areas, residents are only getting power two to three days a week.

Senior officials of the Zimbabwe Electric Supply Authority could not be reached for comment - employees of the utility said they were locked up in meetings.

Opposition lawmaker Priscilla Misiharambwi Mushonga, a member of the house committee on public accounts, which has been looking into operations at the deeply troubled power utility, told reporter Carole Gombakomba that the worsening power cuts indicate that ZESA has moved beyond mere load shedding.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...