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Monkey knocks out a whole nation's power

Technically Incorrect: In Kenya, all it takes for complete power outage is for a monkey to drop on the wrong piece of equipment.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


monkeykenya.jpg

And there is the monkey.

qtvkenya/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The announcement on Facebook was sober.

"At 1129 hours this morning [Tuesday]," it said, "a monkey climbed on the roof of Gitaru Power Station and dropped onto a transformer tripping it. This caused other machines at the power station to trip on overload resulting in a loss of more than 180MW from this plant which triggered a national power blackout."

Such were the words of KenGen, Kenya's national power company, after an incident that seems to veer between the disastrous and the comical.

A monkey got into a power station and accidentally blew the power for the whole country. This was less a military coup than just sheer monkeying about.

KenGen says that power has now been restored. It added on Facebook: "KenGen power installations are secured by electric fencing which keeps away marauding wild animals. We regret this isolated incident and the company is looking at ways of further enhancing security at all our power plants."

KenGen didn't immediately respond to a request for further comment.

It might seem odd to some that a monkey found it so easy to disrupt a whole nation's power supply without even knowing it.

I know, though, that some people will have one dominant concern. Is the monkey OK?

"Monkey is alive and taken in by KWS [Kenya Wildlife Service]," said the company on Facebook.

The fact is that animals do sometimes cause power outages.

Sometimes, the power system simply shuts down after contact with an animal. A repeat offender is the squirrel. They can get everywhere. In 2013, The New York Times catalogued 50 outages in 24 US states all caused by squirrels.

But let's not blame the squirrel alone. Earlier this year, the Large Hadron Collider short-circuited. The miscreant? A weasel.