Massive blackout hits Argentina and Uruguay

Argentina and Uruguay were working to restore power after a massive power failure left large swaths of the Latin American countries in the dark.

Argentinian newspaper La Nacion on Sunday reported that Brazil and Chile had also been affected.

Argentina’s main energy company Edesur said on Twitter it was “slowly beginning to restore” electricity and that power had returned to 34,000 customers as of Sunday morning.

“The return of electricity generation to the interconnected system of the Federal Capital and Greater Buenos Aires has begun,” it said, noting the process would take several hours.

By mid-morning, streets were largely empty in a rainy Buenos Aires, the Argentinian capital, although some stores were open, operating with generators, while Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, was almost entirely without power with only some traffic lights working. 

“A massive failure in the electrical interconnection system left all Argentina and Uruguay without power,” Edesur wrote earlier on Twitter.

Infobae, an Argentinian website, reported on Sunday that all trains had been suspended.

“Never has anything like this happened before,” Alejandra Martinez, a spokesperson for Edesur told Infobae.

Uruguay’s system went down at 7:06 am (10:06 GMT), according to the Uruguayan power company UTE, which attributed the outage to “a fault in the Argentine network”.

More than an hour after the blackout, UTE said its system was being brought back “from zero”.

“There are already coastal cities with service and work continues toward general restoration,” it said.

UTE said “a fault in the Argentina network affected the interconnected system, leaving the entire national territory without service, as well as several provinces of the [neighbouring] country”.

Argentina, with 44 million people, and Uruguay, with 3.4 million, have a common power grid centered on the bi-national Salto Grande dam, 450km north of Buenos Aires. Another Argentinian power company confirmed that the failure knocked out electricity throughout Argentina, without specifying the cause.

Reporting from Buenos Aires, Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo said some traffic lights and trains were working in the capital but that power had not been fully restored.

“Most of the country has been paralysed, not only by this massive electricity outage but also because of enormous storms that have been hitting Argentina for the past few days. It’s been raining non-stop,” she said.

“That’s why the government is saying that the main problem has happened at the Yacyreta hydroelectric dam, located in northeast Argentina near the border with Paraguay, and that the storms had affected the dam and that was why most of Argentina and Uruguay have been left without electricity.”

Social media reports on the blackout were widespread.

“Huge blackout in Argentina: the City, the Province of Buenos Aires and Santa Fe were left in the dark,” a news agency posted on Twitter.

 “What’s happening with this blackout,” a user on Twitter asked the government.

“Never in my life have I seen such a gigantic power cut,” another user wrote.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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