Sri Lanka crisis forces 13-hour blackouts

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Colombo: Sri Lanka has announced nationwide 13-hour daily power cuts from Thursday and more hospitals suspended routine surgeries after running out of life-saving medicines, as the cash-strapped island’s economic crisis deepens.

The South Asian nation of 22 million people is in its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, sparked by an acute lack of foreign currency to pay for even essential imports.

The state electricity regulator said it was extending Wednesday’s 10-hour power cut by another three hours from Thursday, enforcing a 13-hour rolling nationwide blackout.

Amid the country’s worst economic crisis in decades, foreign exchange reserves have fallen by 70 percent in the past two years and were down to a paltry $2.31bn as of February, leaving Sri Lanka struggling to import essentials, including food and fuel.

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