Massive South American blackout leaves 44 million without power

Tweets from Edesur Argentina, one of the country's largest energy providers, explained that "a massive failure in the electrical interconnection system" caused the power outage.

Uruguay has a population of roughly 3.5 million, while Argentina has more than 44 million.

Energy Secretary Gustavo Lopetegui said workers were working to restore electricity nationwide by the end of the day.

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

According to Bloomberg, the Economic Ministry of Argentina said in a statement that a quarter of the affected areas in the country had power restored by 12:15 p.m. local time, and the capital of Buenos Aires is slowly being brought back online. "This is an unprecedented case that will be thoroughly investigated".

Uruguay's UTE power company said "a fault in the Argentina network affected the interconnected system, leaving the entire national territory without service, as well as several provinces of the neighbor country". The outage affected parts of Brazil and Paraguay, as well.

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Work is under way to restore power, though the outage may last hours, according to the statement. Power is gradually returning to Buenos Aires and its greater capital region.

The outage "is the first generalized blackout that Argentina has had in its history", Edesur spokesman Alejandra Martínez told CNN affiliate TN.

Gubernatorial elections in Tierra del Fuego in the south were unaffected by the outage because the province is separate from the rest of the country's grid. Phone service also was intermittent.

A vendor waits for customers during a nationwide blackout, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Sunday, June 16, 2019.

By mid-morning, streets were largely empty in a rainy Buenos Aires although some stores were open, operating with generators, while Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital, was nearly entirely without power with only some traffic lights working. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

Power was also restored to parts of western Uruguay that border Argentina, and to some regions in the south, including Montevideo, said National Administration of Power Plants and Electrical Transmissions, the country's energy authority.

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