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Massive power outage hits Argentina, Uruguay

Updated June 17, 2019

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Buenos Aires: A vendor waits for customers during a national blackout on Sunday. — Reuters
Buenos Aires: A vendor waits for customers during a national blackout on Sunday. — Reuters

BUENOS AIRES: Power was slowly being restored on Sunday after a massive outage blacked out Argentina and Uruguay, leaving aro­und 48 million people without electricity, power companies said.

The cut, which happened just after 7am, also affected Paraguay, which reported short, localised losses of power.

“We have restored 40 percent of the power supply,” said Juan Alberto Luchillo, a top official at Argentina’s energy secretariat, just after 1pm.

Argentinian power company Edesur, which has 2.5 million customers, wrote on Twitter that “the restoration of the electric power service to the grid is slowly beginning.” On a blog, Edesur said that 50,000 of its customers had power back.

“It will take several hours to reestablish the generation and distribution of electricity,” said Edesur’s spokeswoman Alejandra Martinez.

For its part, Uruguay’s state power company UTE said it was “continuing to restore the service.” It said service was back in the northern part of the country above the Rio Negro river, as well as “part of the south coast and metropolitan area” around the capital Montevideo.

It was the first time a power cut had affected the entirety of both Argentina and Uruguay.

The outage was caused by “a collapse of the Argentine Interconnection System (SADI) which produced a massive power cut in the whole country and also affec­ted Uruguay,” Argentina’s energy secretariat said in a statement quoted by local press.

“The causes are being investigated and have not yet been determined,” it said on its Twitter account, adding that it would take “some hours” to restore power completely.

The scale of the outage was such that generators had been unable to compensate, it said.

By midday, power had returned to some sectors of Buenos Aires but the metro and trains were still halted. Public hospitals and private clinics were running on generators.

“The only inconvenience is the elevators. We only have one working but all services are operating without problems,” said an employee at the Fernandez Hospital.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2019