Massive blackout hits tens of millions in South America

U.S. & World

Technicians of Edenor electricity company stand under the rain as they work to fix a generator during a blackout in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, June 16, 2019. A massive blackout left tens of millions of people without electricity in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay on Sunday in what the Argentine president called an “unprecedented” failure in the countries’ power grid. (AP Photo/Tomas F. Cuesta)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A massive blackout left tens of millions of people without electricity in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay on Sunday in what the Argentine president called an “unprecedented” failure in the countries’ power grid.

Authorities were working frantically to restore power, and by the evening electricity had returned to 98 percent of Argentina, according to state news agency Telam. Power also had been restored to most of Uruguay’s 3 million people as well as to people in neighboring Paraguay.

On Sunday morning, Argentine voters were forced to cast ballots by the light of cellphones in gubernatorial elections. Public transportation was halted, shops closed and patients dependent on home medical equipment were urged to go to hospitals with generators.

“This is an unprecedented case that will be investigated thoroughly,” Argentine President Mauricio Macri said on Twitter.

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 at about 7 a.m. local time when a key Argentine interconnection system collapsed. By mid-afternoon nearly half of Argentina’s 44 million people were still in the dark.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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