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Power outage that shut down half of NYC subway blamed on accidental button press

The shutdown reportedly affected more than 80 trains, including all of the subway system's numbered lines plus the L train, beginning after 9 pm that Saturday.

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Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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Following a recent power outage that shut down half of New York City's sprawling subway system last month, an investigation has found that the culprit for the disruption was likely caused by someone accidentally pressing an "Emergency Power Off" button.

According to a pair of reports released by New York Governor Kathy Hochul, outside investigators looked into a disruption that occurred on the night of Aug. 29 and came to the conclusion that there was a "strong possibility" the emergency button was pressed after it was discovered that the plastic safety guard was missing, the Associated Press reported.

The shutdown reportedly affected more than 80 trains, including all of the subway system's numbered lines plus the L train, beginning after 9 pm that Saturday.

According to the Associated Press: "the button was pushed after a power dip lasting several milliseconds at 8:25 p.m. and the subsequent discovery that several pieces of mechanical equipment at the New York City Transit Rail Control Center stopped functioning."

"Control center staff worked to get the equipment back into service. Then someone pushed the emergency button, causing all electrical equipment connected to one of the power distribution units at the center to lose power at 9:06 p.m. Power was restored by 10:30 p.m., according to the reports," the outlet continued.

Officials said the restoration of service was delayed due to passengers on two of the stuck trains leaving the cars and walking down the tracks instead of waiting for rescue. Overall, the shutdown was placed on human error and the "failure to restore power for 84 minutes to inadequate organizational structure and a lack of guidelines," according to the Associated Press.

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