Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay were completely without electricity after a “massive failure” in an interconnection system, a utility distributor said Sunday.
In addition, two other countries in Southern America — Chile and Brazil — had a partial blackout, according to Edesur, the company based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Besides knocking out electricity in homes, residences and street lights, it affected some water supply and public transportation, the Argentine news site Infobae reported. Flights were taking off and landing because airports were operating on generators.
“There is a complete blackout in Argentina,” said Alejandra Martínez, a spokeswoman for Edesur, which has more than 2.5 million customers in parts of the capital, Buenos Aires, and its suburbs said in a report by The New York Times. “This is the first time something like this has happened across the entire country.”
Edesur said a “collapse” in its system occurred around 7 a.m. and the cause is under investigation. It was linked to a failure in the transmission of electricity from the Yacyretá hydroelectric dam on the Paraná River.
Three hours later, the company posted on Twitter it had begun generating electricity in the Argentine capital and the surrounding area.
About 20 minutes later, Edesur said it had restored service to about 50,000 customers.
At 11:53 a.m., the utility tweet power was restored to 450,000 customers, with priority to hospitals and health centers.
“We prioritize the attention of independent users, but due to the gravity of the failure in the electric network of Argentina we recommend attending a nearest hospital or health center if necessary,” the utility posted on its website.
A total of 55 million people live in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The Argentine Interconnection System handles the bulk of Argentina’s electricity. Another one serves the Patagonia region.
Uruguay’s energy supplier, UTE, also posted on Twitter that a malfunction in the Argentine network before dawn had left the “entire national territory” without service.
In 2009, a power failure in Brazil involving the world’s largest operating hydroelectric plant caused widespread blackouts that affected tens of millions of people.
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