Workman blacks out two countries

electricity over asia

I ONCE PLUGGED IN an appliance and accidentally blacked out my whole school. I was an instant hero.

I later told the head teacher that jumping around yelling “woohoo” was how we expressed deep sorrow in my country, but he wasn’t buying it.

My achievement was eventually topped by a friend who dug a hole in his garden and short-circuited the street.

Yet both of us have to bow to workman Ngo Tan Thao. He recently damaged a cable and managed to fuse much of his country—AND the country next door.

The guy was moving stuff with a crane when he hit some wires in Binh Duong, Vietnam, the Thanh Nien news website reported.

With a loud ZAP, he killed the electricity supply in multiple provinces of Vietnam, plus a big chunk of neighboring Cambodia.

Both countries’ capital cities were blacked out. (Pic below shows Ho Chi Minh City.)

ho chi minh city blackout

Just imagine the stages by which Ngo got the story.

1) His fellow workmen would have moaned that their equipment had died. Oops.

2) Then townsfolk must have complained that the whole place was without electricity. Uh-oh.

3) His bosses surely told him the mega- scale of the problem: “President Truong is on the phone and he’s not happy.” Aiyeeah.

4) And finally the cross-border nature of the disaster would have become apparent. “Ngo, there’s an angry president calling from the country next door.” AAAARRGGGHHH…

Poor Ngo. Paying for lost productivity is going to cost him eight and half billion yearssalary.

I wonder what he replied when his wife asked if he’d had a good day?

“So-so. I’ve had better.”

More importantly, could this May 22 incident go into my files under the important title of MFU (Major Foul-Up) of the Century?



There are other contenders. In March 2011, a woman named Hayastan Shakaryan, then aged 75, found a cable and stole it to sell as scrap. It turned out to be the internet link for Armenia and Georgia.

She was charged with several offences, which can be summarized as Stealing the Internet and Causing the Populations of Two Countries to Abruptly Return to Reality.


Yet she merely shut down the web for two nations, while Mr Ngo shut down the internet AND halted ALL OTHER important electricity-dependent activities, if such things exist, which I personally doubt.



Europe has one entry in the MFU stakes. Two nuclear submarines, one French and one British, crashed in the Atlantic in February 2009.

If they had exploded, World War III would surely have started. (All World Wars start in Europe, because the men are always bad tempered, since the women don’t shave their armpits.)

This was an impressive foul-up, considering the difficulty of getting two objects to bump into each other in an ocean measuring 82 million square kilometers, a space equal to the combined volumes of China and India’s landmasses, plus Donald Trump’s ego.


On the plus side of MFUs: The next time warmongers in India or Pakistan or China or North Korea start to get their missile systems ready for launch, let’s dispatch Mr Ngo of Vietnam to do the wiring.

“Oops, sorry, I touched the wrong wire and sent your country back to the Stone Age. I’ll get it fixed in a year or two, probably.”

kim jon un suspicious


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