Millions of people were left in the dark on Sunday (Picture: Reuters)A massive blackout has left tens of millions of people without electricity in Argentina and Uruguay after an unexplained failure in the neighbouring countries’ interconnected power grid.
Authorities were working frantically to restore power, but by mid-afternoon on Sunday about half of Argentina’s 40 million people were still in the dark.
Voters cast ballots using the light of their mobile phones in governor elections in the country.
Public transportation stopped, shops closed and patients dependent on home medical equipment were urged to go to hospitals with generators.
Lucas Acosta, 24, who lives in Buenos Aires resident said: ‘I was just on my way to eat with a friend, but we had to cancel everything. There’s no subway, nothing is working.
‘What’s worse, today is Father’s Day. I’ve just talked to a neighbour and he told me his sons won’t be able to meet him.’
Locals were forced to sleep on sidewalks to escape the heat.
Patients with kidney disease and their relatives wait on the street for the return of electricity, in front of a dialysis center during a blackout, in Maracaibo, Venezuela (Picture: Reuters)
Popcorn vendor Raul Navas looks for customers during a black out in Maracaibo (Picture: AP)
People sleep on the sidewalk to escape from the heat, due to the lack of electricity in their homes that does not allow them to run their air conditioners and fans (Picture: AP)
Public transportation stopped, shops closed and patients dependent on home medical equipment were urged to go to hospitals with generators (Picture: Getty Images)By mid-afternoon, power had been restored to most of Uruguay’s three million people.
But in Argentina, only about 50 per cent of the nation’s grid was back up and running, President Mauricio Macri said on Twitter, and officials from the Energy Secretariat were rallying to establish full service to all users.
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 7am 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.
The blackout is unexplained (Picture: Getty Images)
Shops were forced to close (Picture: Getty Images)
Social media users have reported that parts of Brazil, Chile and Paraguay have also been affected (Picture: Getty Images)
Hallways of Buenos Aires’s subway are lit only by emergency lights during the blackout (Picture: AP)
Argentine Secretariat of Energy has stated that Argentina’s interconnection system had collapsed (Picture: Getty Images)
Shop owners used candles to light up their stores (Picture: Reuters)Silvio Ubermann, a taxi driver in the Argentine capital, said: ‘I’ve never seen something like this.
‘Never such a large blackout in the whole country.’
Argentine energy company Edesur said on Twitter that the failure originated at an electricity transmission point between the power stations in Yacyreta and Salto Grande in the country’s northeast.
Uruguay’s energy company UTE said the failure in the Argentine system cut power to all of Uruguay at one point and much of Argentina.
The company said that some Uruguayan coastal cities had service by early afternoon and blamed the collapse on a ‘flaw in the Argentine network’.
Argentina’s secretary of energy said the power failed at 7.07am. Only the southernmost province of Tierra del Fuego was unaffected.
‘The cause is still under investigation,’ the energy secretary’s office said.
Argentine electric company Edesur said that some 450,000 clients had power restored by 11.53am, with hospitals taking priority.
Uruguayan officials did not provide the number of customers with power back, but a growing list of regions with service indicated that restoration was progressing faster there.