Millions of Pakistanis were left without electricity on Monday due to a nationwide power outage, which threatened to unleash chaos in the South Asian country, which is already experiencing fuel shortages during the winter.

The country’s Ministry of Energy said in a statement the country’s National Grid went down at 7:34 am local time, “causing a widespread breakdown in the power system,” according to initial reports.

“System maintenance work is progressing rapidly,” the statement added.

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A “limited number of grids” in Islamabad and Peshawar have had power restored, the ministry said.

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The duration of the power outage is unknown, but attempts are being made to bring power back to various areas of the country.

The disruption occurs as the country’s frail economy continues to face numerous difficulties, including a serious energy crisis.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered all federal agencies to cut their energy use by 30 per cent. In addition, his administration mandated that all stores and restaurants close at 8:30 pm.