A FAULT at a substation was the reason why thousands of homes across Essex were plunged into darkness yesterday afternoon.

The power cut, which happened at around 3.41pm, affected parts of Thurrock, Chafford Hundred and South Ockenden.

The power was restored thirty minutes after the fault, however, many residents have reported experiencing difficulties at the time of the outage.

A spokesman for UK Power Networks said: "Engineers worked as quickly as possible to restore electricity supplies to several thousand properties in the Thurrock area following a fault at a substation at 3.41pm yesterday.

"All supplies were restored within half an hour by 4.08pm.

"We apologise to customers for the inconvenience caused."

As the huge blackout sparked chaos across the south of the county, shoppers at the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock had to be evacuated.

All roads surrounding the shopping centre were also affected by heavy traffic, with drivers facing huge delays.


Emergency services were also at the scene.

The incident caused a mass confusion in shoppers, with thousands of them standing outside the centre waiting for an update.

One shopper tweeted: "The worst part was the silence. At no stage were we advised as to what was happening."

Another added: "The fear of a fire made me not take any lifts so I pushed my pram up the car entrance slope.

"Then the traffic in the car park got me panicked that if there’s a fire the last thing I want is to be stuck in traffic with my baby stagnant."

Shoppers have also called for the Lakeside Shopping Centre to improve its emergency plan as many people were stranded in the car park not knowing what the emergency situation was.

A different shopper tweeted: "This situation was so badly managed, we were stuck in a carpark for more than hours with no idea of what was happening.

"Frustration was also caused by the fact that residents were sent away, despite the centre reopening later.

When the outage happened, many of the shoppers were caught in the middle of having a meal or going to the cinema.

A spokesman for the Lakeside Shopping Centre said: "Due to a local power outage, we have had to close Lakeside Shopping Centre until further notice.

"Power has fully returned to Lakeside Shopping Centre and our leisure, restaurants and retail have reopened.

"We would like to extend our apologies for the inconvenience this has caused to our shoppers and thank you for your patience."