44 Million Without Power After Massive Blackout Hits Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay

44 Million Without Power After Massive Blackout Hits Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay

Electricity is gradually being restored in Argentina and Uruguay after a widespread blackout Sunday morning that officials blamed on a power transmission system failure.

A quarter of the areas affected in Argentina were with power again by 12:15 p.m., including the province of Entre Rios, and it is gradually returning to the city of Buenos Aires and its greater metropolitan area, according to an Economy Ministry statement.

“The energy restoration process has begun from the strongest points of the system, the Yacyreta, Chocon and Salto Grande hydroelectric power plants,” Argentina’s energy secretary said in a statement. Transener, Argentina’s national grid operator, “opened the system and is powering up again to be able to regularize the service.”

The outage was caused by a failure affecting the Yacyreta transport system, causing power to be cut automatically and triggering a grid failure at 7:07 a.m. local time, the Energy Ministry said.

Power company Edesur Argentina said 500,000 of its 2.5 million clients had recovered service. “The process of normalization, which will require several hours, is beginning,” Edesur said.

“Service to the north of the Rio Negro is now restored. It was also restored in part of the south coast and metropolitan area,” Uruguay’s state utility, the National Administration of Power Plants and Electrical Transmissions, or UTE, in a tweet. Work is underway to restore the rest of the system, it said.

The blackout delayed voting early Sunday in gubernatorial elections in the Argentine provinces of Santa Fe, Formosa, and San Luis. Voters were forced to mark their answers by candle light or using the flashlights from their cellular phones amid an “emergency protocol,” newspaper Clarin reported. Gubernatorial elections in Tierra del Fuego in the South were unaffected by the outage because the province is not connected to the rest of the country’s grid.

Businesses that were normally open on Sundays stayed shut. Phone service also was intermittent. Several panoramic photos shared on social media showed huge swaths of Buenos Aires with no lights on.

“When I started my work we didn’t have any electricity in the building, the streets were empty, not a single business was open,” Buenos Aires resident Maria Carrera said by phone around noon. “I haven’t been able to cook breakfast, and we still don’t have any power.”

Parts of Brazil and Paraguay were also affected by the outage, the BBC reported.

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