India’s northern power grid collapsed for several hours, affecting almost 700 million people in one of the world’s biggest blackouts: hundreds of coal miners were trapped underground, hundreds of trains were immobilised, and heavy traffic was caused by broken traffic lights. There are reports of electric crematoriums stopping with bodies left half burned until wood was brought in to stoke flames.

According to reports, three regional electricity grids collapsed for several hours. Officials managed to restore power but the northern grid collapsed again. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said it would take at least 10 to 12 hours to repair the grid. Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde blamed on “states taking more than their allotted share of electricity”.

“Just this morning I held a meeting with power officials from the states and I gave directions that overdraw should be punished. We have given instructions that their power supply could be cut,” Shinde told reporters.

India’s Central Electricity Authority reported power deficits of more than 8%. Indians are familiar with frequent blackouts. In the meantime, some major businesses are able to use backup generators but the vast majority of people cannot. There is growing anger amongst citizens about the lack of infrastructure in the country.