MORE than 150 homes have been plunged into darkness after an unexpected power cut.

UK Power Networks says it is aware of a power cut affecting 158 properties in the CM19 4 postcode area in Harlow.

A statement on its website says it became aware of the issue at about 4.30am today and apologised for any disruption it is causing.

A further update just before 7.15am says: "Thanks for your patience this morning. Our staff are checking our equipment throughout the area to pinpoint the issue on our underground cabling network.

"In addition to this, they are liaising closely with our control room to find safe and reliable ways to divert power around any problems and get everyone back on.

"They are estimating power will be restored between 8am and 9am. We know that our customers may be worried about the food in the fridge and freezer, so we want to try and help with advice.

"Food should keep for up to 4 hours in the fridge, and between 24-48 hours in the freezer if you avoid opening them. We'll keep you updated on our engineers progress."

The power cut was caused by a fault on an underground electricity cable, the power company added.