LONDON (AP) – Blackouts caused by sweltering temperatures struck more than 3,000 businesses in London’s major shopping district and part of its transit network on Thursday, officials said.

High energy demand led to outages starting in the city’s central Soho district, said James Barber, a spokesman for energy company EDF in southeast England.

Barber said the outages were due to a “highly unusual sequence of faults” at substations and in underground cables.

Temperatures on Thursday reached 86 degrees in central London, the Meteorological Office weather center said.

Part of the Oxford Circus subway station, which serves more than 300 nearby stores, was closed for around an hour and a half, causing severe disruption, said James Simpson, a spokesman for the London Underground. He said an estimated 570,000 passengers ride through the station on weekdays.

Barber said sporadic power outages would likely continue into Friday in the area between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus in central London.

“Prudent use of power by those in the affected area, for example turning off air conditioning where possible, will help this situation,” the company said in a statement.

Barber said engineers were patrolling the affected area to provide information and assistance.

“This is bad news for business and bad news for shoppers,” said Jace Tyrrell, spokesman for the New West End Company, which represents some of the affected businesses. “We are very disappointed on behalf of businesses. It is even more disappointing for shoppers who turn to stores to escape the heat.”

AP-ES-07-27-06 1549EDT

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