SYDNEY (AP) — An entire Australian state lost power as a strong storm lashed the region Wednesday, causing traffic chaos, stranding people in elevators and prompting police to warn residents to stay inside.
South Australia state Premier Jay Weatherill said it wasn't clear what caused the power outage, which occurred as heavy rain and fierce winds swept across the state that is home to 1.7 million people.
"It's obviously a very significant event that could take down so much infrastructure and destroy so much of the system," Weatherill told reporters in the state capital, Adelaide.
Most traffic lights were knocked out, causing gridlock across the state. Police were responding to several reports of people stuck in elevators, and emergency services and hospitals were running on back-up power, state police Commissioner Grant Stevens said.
The storm was expected to continue pummeling the region through Thursday, with wind gusts exceeding 100 kilometers an hour (60 miles an hour) in places, the Bureau of Meteorology said. Rainfall totals could reach as high as 10 centimeters (4 inches) in spots, the bureau said.
Officials were working to restore power, but it was expected to take hours to get everything running again, Weatherill said.