Massive South American blackout, 44 million without power

Sunday, June 16, 2019
By Paul Martin

By PAUL BYRNE and PATRICIA LUNA
APNews.com
6/16/2019

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A massive blackout left more than 44 million people without electricity in Argentina and Uruguay on Sunday after an unexplained failure in the neighboring countries’ interconnected power grid. Authorities were working frantically to restore power but only about a half a million in Argentina had electricity back by early afternoon.

Voters cast ballots by the light of cell phones in gubernatorial elections in Argentina. Public transportation halted, shops closed and patients dependent on home medical equipment were urged to go to hospitals with generators.

“I was just on my way to eat with a friend, but we had to cancel everything. There’s no subway, nothing is working,” said Lucas Acosta, a 24-year-old Buenos Aires resident. “What’s worse, today is Father’s Day. I’ve just talked to a neighbor and he told me his sons won’t be able to meet him.”

In Uruguay, power was being more steadily restored, with lights back on in at least three regions by early afternoon. Officials said they expected most of the country of 3 million people to have light back soon.

Argentina’s power grid is generally known for being in a state of disrepair, with substations and cables that were insufficiently upgraded as power rates remained largely frozen for years.

The country’s energy secretary said the blackout occurred around 7 a.m. local time when a key interconnection system collapsed, but the causes were “being investigated and are not yet determined.”

Brazilian and Chilean officials said their countries had not been affected.

Officials were not immediately available for comment, but many residents of Argentina and Uruguay said the size of the outage was unprecedented in recent history.

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