South America power cut leaves 48 million people without electricity

July 5, 2020 0 By JohnValbyNation

A massive power cut left an estimated 48 million people across huge areas of South America without electricity on Sunday. All of Argentina and Uruguay and parts of Brazil, Chile and Paraguay were hit by the blackout after what was described as the collapse of a "key interconnection system" shortly after 7am.

It is unclear what caused the breakdown but heavy rain had fallen all weekend in the region. Argentinian utility distributor, Edenor, said a transmission system at Yacyretá Dam on the Paraná River near Ayolas in Paraguay had failed "without human intervention," forcing an automatic shutdown.

Public transport was halted, traffic lights went dark and the water supply was also affected with residents in Buenos Aires being asked to ration drinking water because the filtration plant was shut down.

Hospitals and some airports were running on generators and there were long queues at petrol stations. Many took to social media to share dramatic photos and video footage of cities in darkness before dawn broke.

Lucas Rodriguez tweeted a video of the Argentine capital in darkness. "The funny part is that we don’t have electricity, but we have internet in our phones," he told CNN.

And Juan Borgesl who also lives in the city, told the BBC: "Everything came to a halt. Elevators, water pumps, everything. We were left adrift."

Alejandra Martínez, a spokeswoman for Argentinian electricity company Edesur, said the outage was unprecedented. “There is a complete blackout in Argentina, she said. "This is the first time something like this has happened across the entire country.”

Late on Sunday morning about 500,000 homes had been reconnected. Gustavo Lopetegui, the Energy Secretariat of Argentina,  explained that work to turn the power back on had begun in parts of the country, but that restoring the entire system would take hours.

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The Ministry of Civil Protection estimated that parts of the service could be restored in about seven or eight hours.  The power failure came on a day when parts of Argentina were heading to the polls for local elections.