AOL's service was hit by a major "meltdown" last night leaving millions of Net users unable to access email or the Web.
The monster Internet company blamed the incident on a major power failure which hit Northern Virginia (where its operation is based) at around 7.30pm (GMT).
According to first-hand reports, some AOL users were unable to sign on to the service. When they did, they were unable to send or receive emails, enter chat rooms or use the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service.
According to one AOL user who contacted El Reg when the service came back online last night: "It hit AOL world-wide. USA, German and Canadian members all had the same problems.
"AOL Tech help had queues of over an hour and phone lines were jammed, AIM is still down but most of AOL 2-3hrs later is now getting back to normal."
Another user described the outage as a "biggie...the meltdown of AOL world-wide".
The full scale of the incident is still unknown. Nor is it known how many users were hit.
In a statement, the company said: "Due to a major regional power failure across the Northern Virginia area, some members or users may have been unable to use some certain applications for a brief period of time.
"We recovered quickly and restored the use of the applications."
AOL is still investigating the matter. ®