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BEIRUT: Lebanon's parliament approved $200 million in emergency funding Monday to stave off a national power cut the energy minister warned would otherwise hit by the end of March.

Caretaker energy minister Raymond Ghajar said three weeks ago that the country would plunge into "total darkness" if no money was secured to buy fuel for power stations.

The state-run Electricity of Lebanon (EDL) faces dire cash shortages, as the country grapples with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

On Monday, "parliament approved... a $200 million advance" for EDL, the National News Agency reported.

The decision came a day after one of the country's largest power plants, Zahrani in south Lebanon, stopped operating because it ran out of fuel. EDL said the closure was caused because a fuel ship could not be immediately offloaded because of logistical problems.

Meanwhile, another cargo ship scheduled to arrive from Kuwait has been held up due to the stuck container ship blocking the Suez Canal, it added. Power cuts have been common in Lebanon for decades, forcing Lebanese use private generators. Now the country is facing an economic crunch and fast running out of hard currency to back imports.

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