Massive power blackout hits Latin America

Clay Curtis
June 16, 2019

A "massive failure in the electrical interconnection system" has left "all of Argentina and Uruguay without power", Edesur Argentina, a power company serving more than 2.5 million customers, said on Twitter.

Uruguay has a population of roughly 3.5 million, while Argentina has more than 44 million.

Elsewhere in Argentina, several provinces were forced to temporarily delay local elections slated for Sunday. "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.

Energy distributors in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, whose populations total almost 55 million, said power was being restored to major cities, including Montevideo and Buenos Aires after being without power for at least five hours.

The country's energy secretary, Gustavo Lopetegui, said the causes for the system failure had not yet been determined.

The Argentinian news site Infobae reported that the power cut stopped trains and subway service; however, two airports in Buenos Aires continued to run on generators.

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The matter is now under investigation, according to Alameda County District Attorney spokeswoman Teresa Drenick. The deputy complained of pain in his jaw and was taken to a hospital for evaluation and later released.

"I was just on my way to eat with a friend, but we had to cancel everything".

UTE, Uruguay's energy supplier, also confirmed the power outage, saying a malfunction in the Argentine network had left "the entire national territory" without service.

The blackout delayed voting early Sunday in gubernatorial elections in the Argentine provinces of Santa Fe, Formosa, and San Luis.

The company has since said it has begun the process of normalisation which "will take several hours". "Something like this has never happened before", she said. Argentina Standard Time is four hours behind Dublin.

The subsidies were a key part of the electricity policy of President Néstor Kirchner's 2003-2007 administration and the presidency of Kirchner's wife and successor, Cristina Fernández in 2007-2015.

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